Democrats Edge Closer to Single-Payer Health Care with ‘Medicare Extra for All’ Plan

Sanders Medicare for All
Andrew Harnik/AP

Democrats are edging closer to adopting single-payer healthcare as the Center for American Progress (CAP) unveiled their “Medicare Extra for All” healthcare scheme.

The “Medicare Extra for All” plan would provide government health insurance, modeled after Medicare, for everyone who would apply. However, American citizens would have the option to obtain employer-provided health insurance.

Many Democratic 2020 presidential nomination contenders such as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have pushed for a single-payer healthcare provider system.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) laid out a vision for a government-run health care system during the 2016 presidential election that he called, “Medicare for All.”

Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at CAP, said, “I think Bernie Sanders has definitely laid out a vision and created a movement toward Medicare for all, and no doubt that has been a big factor.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back against Sanders’ idea of a single-payer healthcare scheme, arguing it would erase the progress created by Obamacare.

Hillary said in a debate with Sen. Sanders in 2016, “Now, there are things we can do to improve [ObamaCare], but to tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate, I think is the wrong direction.”

Jim Manley, a former staffer for Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Harry Reid (D-NV), argued that “It’s partly because of what Republicans have done to undermine the current health-care system.”

“The party as a whole is becoming much more liberal; I can’t deny that,” Manley added.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who signed onto a bill providing Medicare with 120 other House Democrats, said last week, “I don’t think there’s any question that a lot of Democrats think this is very safe ground now.”

Although CAP did not list a price for their government health insurance program, other single-payer health programs might offer a barometer for how much the program might cost.

The Urban Institute found that a government run single-payer health care program would increase government spending by $32 trillion over ten years. The Washington Post noted that the program would be “astonishingly” expensive.

The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit said that the CAP plan would mean “more power for politicians and bureaucrats to prescribe, define, limit or control what ordinary Americans could access from the health-care system.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday that, “Piece by piece by piece, Obamacare is being wiped out!”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate.

President Trump then suggested that repealing Obamacare “piece by piece by piece” may serve as a better strategy than trying to repeal Obamacare with a comprehensive replacement bill such as Graham-Cassidy or the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA).

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