Powerful House panel to hold Medicare for All hearing next week

A powerful House committee announced on Tuesday that it will hold a hearing next week on Medicare for All, as well as several other proposals to expand health coverage, in a boost for backers of the progressive policy priority.

The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will hold a hearing next Tuesday on the Medicare for All bill introduced by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), along with six other bills, including scaled-back, “public option” proposals. 

House committees have already held three hearings on Medicare for All so far this year, but the Energy and Commerce announcement is significant given that panel’s key role on health care. 

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), had also been resistant to the idea of holding a hearing on Medicare for All, saying instead that he wanted to focus on strengthening ObamaCare. 

“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for all or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said in November 2018, shortly after Democrats took back the House. 

Jayapal, in particular, has been pushing for hearings on her bill for months. 

Despite getting hearings, Medicare for All is not expected to get a vote in the House this year or next as Democrats increasingly focus on the 2020 White House battle.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while giving her support to airing ideas at a hearing, has been raising increasingly explicit warnings against the policy dominating her party’s presidential race, warning of its cost and that people do not want to lose their private insurance. 

“I’m not a big fan of Medicare for All,” she said last month.  

Medicare for All will also have to share the stage at the hearing with somewhat less ambitious proposals, including plans for optional government-run insurance backed by Reps. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). 

“Universal health care coverage has long been the North Star of the Democratic Party and it’s why the Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine seven legislative proposals that advance universal coverage for the American people,” Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday. 

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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