House Democrats introduced a sweeping Medicare-for-all proposal Wednesday that would transform the U.S. health care system in just two years. Co-sponsored by more than 100 lawmakers, the plan would create a single-payer system that is more ambitious and more generous than other leading plans currently under consideration, including the one proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“It’s time to put people’s health over profit," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the bill’s lead sponsor. “We will be pushing it as hard as we can and as fast as we can. Enough nibbling around the edges. We really need to transform the system.”
Here’s what the plan would do:
- Create a single-payer health-care system run by the government within 2 years
- Provide medical, vision, dental and long-term care
- Eliminate copays, premiums and deductibles
- Put hospitals and nursing homes on fixed budgets
- Pay doctors on a fee-for-service model
- Bar employers from offering competing plans
- Sunset Medicare and Medicaid
- Maintain the Veterans Affairs health system and the Indian Health Services
What’s missing: The plan does not a cost estimate, nor does it indicate how the overhaul would be paid for. Jayapal has suggested that a wealth tax, mandatory employer contributions and savings generated by the new system could cover some or all of the costs
How the plan compares: Jayapal’s plan is “significantly more generous than the single-payer plans run by America’s peer countries,” Vox’s Dylan Scott said.
The bottom line: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not endorsed the plan, and the bill has virtually no chance of passing this term. But the proposal suggests that Democrats continue to move left on health care, with an eye on radical changes that could take effect if the 2020 elections go their way.