Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) introduced in the House the Medicare For All Act of 2019. This bill would create a new program to address healthcare for everyone, essentially expanding Medicare to cover Americans at all ages. This bill has no score yet, but major think tanks are estimating that a Medicare For All program could cost upwards of $32 trillion dollars over a 10-year period.
The major points of the proposal include:
- Patients would not be responsible for any cost sharing of medical expenses, and government coverage would include hospitals, doctors, preventive care, prescription meds, dental, and vision care. Private insurers would not be allowed to sell plans that compete with the government program.
- Senior citizens would be folded into the new Medicare plan and would not be disrupted.
- The bill leaves the Veterans Health Administration and the Indian Health Service intact. Beneficiaries enrolled in these programs would have a choice of enrolling in the new Medicare For All plan or continuing with their current coverage.
- The transition to the new Medicare For All system would take place over two years, but those over the age of 55 or under 19 would be eligible after one year following enactment.
- Long term care is covered.
- The bill allows the government to negotiate prices directly with manufacturers and to take away and reissue drug patents.
- Private plans can cover services not included in the single government health plan.
- Doctors can refuse to participate in the program and charge patients cash for medical treatment instead.
Major details are missing from the House bill, such as how to fund it, what precisely would be covered, and what doctors would be paid.
We don’t believe this bill will have much momentum in the House or Senate until the 2020 election cycle. This proposed legislation will go through many mark-ups in a few house committees. It is likely there will be a large amount of amendments offered up as well.
We will be vigilant with this piece of legislation and keep everyone apprised of its status. This is just the first of many versions of this type of legislation being introduced that may impact brokers, agents, employers, and their businesses. For now, it is advisable to stay the course. Brokers and their clients should continue business as usual. ACA is still the law of the land.