A radical new health care proposal that, if implemented, would ban private insurance coverage has garnered the endorsement of more than 100 members of the House Democratic conference—nearly half of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) 235-seat majority.
Last week, Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), introduced the Medicare-for-All Act of 2019. Billed as a means to provide “freedom of choice” to health care consumers, the legislation would require everyone, regardless of existing insurance coverage, to enroll in Medicare within two years of passage. Under the proposal, “all primary care, hospital, and outpatient” services would be covered by Medicare without any co-pay or out-of-pocket costs. Encompassed among the list of covered procedures are abortion, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and transportation to and from “health care” appointments for low-income individuals and those with disabilities.
The proposal’s most controversial aspect, however, entails the phasing out of private insurance plans. The bill would make it illegal for private insurance providers to sell health coverage that “duplicates the benefits” offered by the taxpayer-funded Medicare-for-All program. Likewise, the bill prohibits employers from offering coverage to their employees if it mirrors those offered by the federal government. Private health insurance plans could only be sold to individuals or offered by employers if they “provide supplemental coverage” on top of Medicare-for-All. Other provisions in the bill limit the federal government from subsidizing any private insurance plans.
Despite polling showing that more than 80 percent of voters oppose eliminating private insurance plans, Jayapal’s bill garnered the backing of 105 other House Democrats upon introduction. The support, although stemming largely from CPC stalwarts and liberal firebrands like Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), also came from several moderate and freshman Democrats.
Some freshman Democrats, like Jared Golden (Maine), Katie Hill (Calif.), Susan Wild (Pa.), and Mike Levin (Calif.) signed as cosponsors of the bill after making it an issue during their 2018 congressional races. Each campaigned as bipartisan pragmatists and won their districts narrowly by promising to fix Washington, D.C. – READ MORE