Politics: First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides - - PressFrom - US

PoliticsFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides

02:50  13 june  2019
02:50  13 june  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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Medicare for All may be progressives' rallying cry. But it’s Medicare for More that’s likely to wind up becoming reality. The wrangling has been largely obscured by the new House Democratic majority ’s decision to spend its first months in power focused on efforts to strengthen Obamacare — a position

What " Medicare for All " would do, in its most progressive of iterations, is create a universal health-care system using the Medicare model. Supporters say it will be a major increase in federal spending In a piece about the Republican attacks on " Medicare for All ," Vox's Matthew Yglesias, points us to

First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides© Greg Nash First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides

Supporters of "Medicare for All" notched a victory Wednesday when one of Congress's most powerful committees debated the progressive proposal, but the venue also gave Republicans an opportunity to paint proponents as socialists.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee were at odds with each other, and at times with the lively audience of Medicare for All advocates, over how to pay for a program that's estimated to cost in the tens of trillions of dollars.

It was the first time a congressional committee with jurisdiction over health care issues has held a hearing on the proposal, following two events hosted by the Rules and the Budget committees earlier this year.

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" Medicare for all " has become a litmus test for 2020 Democrats, but the party is struggling to balance the grassroots enthusiasm for the cause with the political challenges of making it a reality. Kamala Harris was the latest candidate to come under fire from the left, right and center.

On Wednesday came a " Medicare for All " bill from Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders — his attempt to push single-payer health care, long one "We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of

"This is a historic step in the process of recognizing health care as a human right," said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), co-chair of the House's Medicare for All Caucus, at a press conference.

The hearing was mostly partisan and light on substance, with members using their allotted time to rail for or against the proposal instead of questioning the panel of health care experts and advocates at the witness table.

While Democrats are divided over the issue, they focused their collective fire on Republicans, accusing them of using "scare tactics" to fight back against any government expansion of health care.

"Today's Republican condemnation of Medicare for All continues a great Republican tradition of opposing Medicare for anyone," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), prompting both applause and laughter from the audience.

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Medicare Extra for All would guarantee universal coverage and eliminate underinsurance. To ensure that the Center for Medicare Extra is immune from partisan political influence within the administration, the legislative statute would leave little to no discretion to the administration on policy matters.

GOP lawmakers zeroed in on Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All bill, which has 112 co-sponsors in the House.

Republicans compared her measure to failed universal health care systems in countries like Romania, warning that single-payer would hurt children and seniors.

"We will not stand by and let Democrats seize your health care, your choice, and your control over life-and-death health decisions under Medicare for All," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking member on the committee.

"When you pull the curtain back on Medicare for All, the truth is staring at you: Many Americans will pay more, wait longer for health care, and get worse care than you receive now," he added.

Jayapal, who sat in the front row of the audience with a sour look on her face during Brady's testimony, at one point commented, "Wow."

"I have never heard a ranking member's statement that was filled with not a single truth," she later told reporters.

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"What a Medicare for All program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman Medicare , on the other hand, is a single-payer system in which the federal government pays the Sanders' plan would be far more generous, including dental, vision, hearing , mental health and

Wednesday's event also highlighted the fact that the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has the most control over health care issues, has not held a hearing on Medicare for All.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) has instead focused his committee's work on strengthening the Affordable Care Act and lowering health care and prescription drug costs.

Jayapal told The Hill she will start conversations with Pallone "soon" about holding a hearing.

The hearing was more lively than the previous two Medicare for All hearings, with Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) admonishing the applauding and hollering audience several times.

At one point, a protester stood up to point and shout at Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) for referring to Medicare for All proposals as an expansion of red tape and bureaucracy.

"You're beholden to corporate interests!" the protester shouted. "You only care about money!"

As the protester was led out of the room, Kelly said the health care debate "brings out the best and worst in people."

Medicare for All proponents aren't just pressuring Republicans, they're also calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to allow a floor vote on the measure.

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The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare - for - all , otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. When Sanders first introduced his bill, he argued that most Americans would find any tax hikes offset by savings on household health-care costs.

All over this country, I have heard from Americans who have shared heartbreaking stories about our The transition to the Medicare for All program would take place over four years. But they are on the wrong side of history. Guaranteeing health care as a right is important to the American people not just

Supporters argue that Democratic leaders should be taking the proposal seriously given the number of backers in the 2020 field of presidential contenders.

Several Democrats running for president have backed the Senate version of Medicare for All sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a White House hopeful.

But not all Democratic candidates back the proposal, and that intraparty division was evident at Wednesday's hearing as well.

While the Ways and Means Committee includes many Democratic co-sponsors of Jayapal's bill, including Reps. John Lewis (Ga.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Linda Sánchez (Calif.), others like Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) would rather focus on adding a public insurance option via the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to compete with private insurance companies.

"The ACA subsidies could have been greater and we should have included a public option," Pascrell said during the hearing. "Those two priorities, for me, must be on our agenda."

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