One of—if not the—loudest advocate of Medicare for All, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week reintroduced his plan to establish a single-payer Medicare program that would largely eliminate the private payer sector. The presidential hopeful made it a focal point of his 2016 run for the White House and is doing so again as the 2020 campaign heats up. The broader concept of Medicare for All has gained traction within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Industry groups were quick to express their concern, saying it will throw Americans into untested waters and drive up costs. Instead, they argued, Congress should fix the current system.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ latest Medicare for All plan is estimated by some researchers to run the government anywhere from $25 trillion to $35 trillion over a decade. Who gets covered?
- Americans younger than 19 and older than 55 would be enrolled first in the new program.
- Everyone else could buy into the plan on the Obamacare marketplaces one year after the law is enacted.
- Employers could buy a public plan for their employees during that one-year transition.
- After then, everyone would be automatically enrolled in the system.
- While not specifically expressed, the bill is intended to be inclusive of undocumented immigrants.
- Private insurers would not be able to compete with the same coverage provided by Medicare for All. They could only offer coverage on elective procedures, such as cosmetic surgery, something that to date, has not been covered by most commercial insurers.
- Coverage would be expansive and would cost nothing to the consumer.
- Community and home-based long-term care would be covered. Medicaid would continue to cover institutional care, and states would determine the standard of eligibility.
- The bill would be paid for through a progressive tax on workers and employers, an increase in taxes on the wealthy and a large fee on financial institutions.