Democrats' Medicare-for-all bill: What's in it?

Progressive House Democrats unveiled a bill to expand the Medicare system to cover all Americans – not just those ages 65 and over.

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The bill, which has the support of more than 100 members of the chamber, was introduced by its main sponsors, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, on Wednesday.

“The bill improves and expands the overwhelmingly popular Medicare program so that every person living in the United States has guaranteed access to health care, with comprehensive benefits,” Jayapal said in a video message.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposal:

  • The government-run Medicare system would be expanded to include coverage for everything from prescription drugs to dental and vision to maternity care, mental health and long-term care.
  • It would eliminate copays, deductibles and premiums.
  • The bill calls for a transition to a single-payer system in about two years. That’s even more ambitious than Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander’s 2017 proposal – which allowed for a four-year transition period.
  • If implemented, the policy would severely limit the role of the private insurance market. It does include methods for retraining individuals who are displaced from the sector.
  • According to estimates from the bill’s supporters, it would save Americans up to 14 percent on health care costs each year.
  • The bill does not include cost estimates or financing strategies. However, Jayapal is expected to release funding proposals, which may include a tax on high earners or required employer contributions. It is worth noting that one estimate – from libertarian think tank the Mercatus Center – put costs of Sanders’ plan at around $32.6 trillion over the course of a decade. Sanders’ team, however, said it would cost less.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, has not yet voiced support for the proposal. Some more moderate members of the Democratic Party have shied away from outright support for the Medicare-for-all policy.

It is not clear whether there will be a vote on the legislation, but there are calls for hearings later this year.