Medicare for All Act of 2019: What Is It?
It’s back, stronger than ever. The Medicare for All Act of 2019 is helping revive a concept that Americans are now beginning to look at more seriously than they did four years ago when Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders first proposed single-payer health insurance for all.
Some call Medicare for All a socialist notion, but is it? For many Democrats, the proposed system is a welcome alternative to the Affordable Care Act while other Dems in Congress would rather alter the ACA to overcome some of the issues that have arisen.
What is in the Bill?
The Medicare for All Act of 2019 already has about 107 co-sponsors. Here are details of the legislation.
- Every U.S. citizen would transition onto single-payer, public health insurance provider within two years’ time. This differs from Senator Sanders’ which called for a four-year transition.
- No out-of-pocket and premium costs would be charged for medical care.
- Medicare would be allowed to negotiate drug prices, something it can’t do at this time. If negotiations failed, the government would be able to issue a generic license to produce the drug.
- Some subsidized charges would come with prescription drugs.
- With the new bill, free long-term care and home health care would be guaranteed free for Americans with disabilities.
- People who currently work in the private insurance industry, between 1 to 2 million, would receive pension benefits, job training and other assistance during a five-year transition period. The program would be funded by 1 percent of the Medicare for All fund.
Pros & Cons
As noted in an article in The Washington Post, Medicare for All is would cost an estimated $30 trillion.
Pros cited by proponents:
- On average, the U.S. health care spending per capita (over $10K per person) is twice that of most developed nations, while life expectancy in the U.S. is below-average at birth and other key health outcomes.
- A single government insurer would have the negotiating power to bring costs down.
- Heath coverage would be available to those who aren’t covered right now.
- The economy would be bolstered by patients’ savings since they wouldn’t be paying for premiums and co-pays.
Cons cited by opponents:
- The plan would probably require large new taxes.
- It would force almost half of Americans to leave their current plan to go to the public plan.
- With more people covered but in a single-payer system, quality of care may suffer and wait times could increase.
Who Is For & Who is Against the Bill?
For the Bill
Besides its support by a growing number of Democrats in the House, the bill is approved by a diverse group of unions and groups including:
- American Federation of Teachers,
- SEIU (Service Employees International Union)
- The Association of American Flight Attendants
- Physicians for a National Health Program
Against the Bill
Politico reports that besides politicians, others are working to ensure the bill doesn’t get passed such as:
- Insurance companies
- Other healthcare lobbies
Will the Act Pass?
With rising prescription drug costs, premiums and medical debt, it’s not surprising that polls show that a broad spectrum of Americans are worried about health care costs and generally support an expanded Medicare. Where people differ seems to be in the details, how the problems are solved.
What is clear is that a movement is under way and it is gaining some steam, in concept. Many alternatives are being looked at as well. Medicare for All Act as-is is considered likely to fail in the Senate, even if it passes in the House. In the meantime, compromises and other solutions are also being contemplated. All are looking for ways to bring down health care costs and allow everyone to receive health care.
If you are considering your health insurance options, learn more about what is available, get quotes and compare costs.