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House Dems Schedule First Ever ‘Medicare for All’ Hearing

Bernie Sanders supporters during an event introducing the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 13, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

House Democrats have scheduled the first ever hearing for Medicare for All legislation for next week, as the proposal is becoming a litmus test for Democratic 2020 presidential candidates.

The “Medicare for All Act” will be considered by the House Rules Committee next Tuesday and by the House Budget Committee at a later date. However, the two primary health care committees, Ways and Means as well as Energy and Commerce, have so far been reluctant to consider the proposal.

“It’s a serious proposal that deserves serious consideration on Capitol Hill as we work toward universal coverage,” said Representative James McGovern, who chairs the Rules committee.

Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell introduced the legislation, which has more than 100 House co-sponsors, fewer than the proposal has had in previous years.  The bill would cover disability, prescription drugs, mental health, maternal care, vision, dental, and substance-abuse care, would scrap Medicare’s age requirement, and would not charge patients copays, premiums, or deductibles. It does not detail how the program’s cost would be covered.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has encouraged committees to hold hearings on Medicare for All but has not attached her name to the proposal.

“That is, administratively, the simplest thing to do, but to convert to it? Thirty trillion dollars. Now, how do you pay for that?,” Pelosi remarked in February.

Analysts estimated other versions of the legislation, such as Senator Bernie Sanders’ Senate bill, would cost in the ballpark of $32 trillion.

Sanders was one of the first Democratic heavyweights to back the sweeping health care overhaul, which would transfer all U.S. residents to a government health care plan and essentially eliminate the private health insurance market.

The democratic socialist and presidential candidate has since propelled the issue to the front of the 2020 presidential debate, impelling other contenders for the Democratic nomination to state where they stand on the proposal.

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