Democrats unveil sweeping Medicare-for-all health care overhaul

Progressive House Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill to expand Medicare coverage – which currently only applies to the elderly – to all Americans.

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The Medicare-for-all bill is sponsored by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, boasting support from at least 100 other members of the chamber. It calls for a transition into a single-payer system over the course of two years, expanding the government-run program to cover everything from prescription drugs, dental, vision, abortions to long-term care – at virtually no cost to consumers (it would eliminate co-pays, deductibles and premiums).

“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.

The proposal would nearly eliminate the role of the private insurance market.

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, though – as reported by Politico – Jayapal is expected to release funding proposals, which might include a tax on high earners or required employer contributions.

Earlier this year, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris – a 2020 contender – announced support for a Medicare-for-all plan that would also potentially eliminate the entire private insurance market.

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – another declared competitor for the presidency in 2020 – unveiled his own Medicare-for-all plan in 2017. At the time, Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker – all of whom are vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination – signed on in support.

It was estimated at the time by the Libertarian think tank the Mercatus Center that Sanders’ proposal could cost $32.6 trillion over the course of ten years. Sanders’ team, however, claimed it would cost much less.

The Vermont senator is reportedly working on an updated version of his legislation, according to The Washington Post.

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Americans appear somewhat mixed when it comes to their support for Medicare-for-all.

According to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56 percent of survey respondents said they favored a Medicare-for-all plan. However, support for the plan drops when Americans were faced with prospects of paying higher taxes to fund the system and the elimination of private health insurance companies (only 37 percent favorability for each scenario.) When respondents were asked if they would still support the proposal if it threatened the current Medicare program, only 32 percent remained in favor.