A Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adviser told health insurance executives that they will serve as an ally in the fight against Medicare for All, according to a report released on Tuesday.
One month after Democrats took back the House during the 2018 midterms, Pelosi health care policy adviser Wendell Primus told Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) executives that Pelosi would serve as an ally to the health insurance industry against Medicare for All and other single-payer health insurance programs.
Primus described their plan to improve universal health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of Medicare for All.
In contrast, the Pelosi adviser criticized Medicare for All-style proposals based on its “cost,” and that “monies are needed for other priorities.” Primus also said that there remain many outside stakeholders, which might include the health care industry, opposes such a radical proposal, and there would be challenges in implementing such a grandiose plan.
Several studies have pinned the cost of a Medicare for All program to be around $32-38 trillion over the next ten years and scholars have suggested that such a plan would require “historic tax increases to pay for it.”
Primus also suggested that states can also work to protect the ACA and expand health insurance coverage, which includes:
- Restoring the Obamacare individual mandate.
- Improving affordability through reinsurance and reducing deductibles as well as premiums.
- Limiting “substandard” plans and requiring that plans provide greater consumer protections. Primus listed President Donald Trump’s expansion of short-term health plans and Association Health Plans (AHPs) as an example of Republicans’ attempt to sabotage Obamacare.
- Safeguarding Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) and protecting Obamacare regulations that require company health plans to provide contraceptives.
- Increasing Obamacare enrollment through ACA best practices.
Primus concluded his presentation to BCBS with a bullet point that illustrated the House Speaker’s position on health care, saying, “Lower your health care costs and prescription drug prices.”
Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that Speaker Pelosi remains committed to offering Democrats hearing opportunities for Medicare for All legislation.
Speaker Pelosi has ensured that Medicare for All will have hearings in the House and tapped Congressman Brian Higgins to take the lead on Medicare buy-in legislation. For the first time, House committees will be seriously examining and tackling some of the questions and possible solutions raised by Medicare for All legislation.
“The biggest obstacles facing Medicare for All right now are Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump,” Connelly added. “But in the near term, there is a window for Democrats to press Trump to help pass aggressive legislation to negotiate down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs.”
Medicare for All served as a strong rallying cry for many progressive Democrats who helped Pelosi take over the Speaker’s gavel and gain control over the House of Representatives.
Many 2020 Democrat presidential candidates have backed a Medicare for All program, even though some have faced backlash over their call to eliminate private health insurance.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) originally called for eliminating private health insurance through a Medicare for All-style proposal and then quickly walked back those remarks. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) also dodged questions over whether he would eliminate private health insurance as a part of his Medicare for All program.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also co-sponsored Sanders’ bill.
However, the problem for both Harris and Booker arises as they both co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) bill, S. 1804, which would ban private health insurance to implement a Medicare for All program.
Americans have had a mixed reaction to Medicare for All, especially when they hear the proposal would eliminate their health insurance.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 56 percent of Americans favor Medicare for All, but Americans’ favorability of the socialized medicine proposal drops to 37 percent when they hear that it would eliminate private health insurance.
Tricia Neuman, director of Kaiser’s program for Medicare policy, said, “Most people are satisfied with the health insurance until they have a problem. The public favors these proposals that would broaden choice, but also want to be sure they don’t lose something that they value.”