Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) joined on Wednesday Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and 106 other co-sponsors for the introduction of the Medicare For All Act of 2019, an ambitious plan that would expand the existing Medicare program to provide universal coverage to all U.S. residents.
The bill seeks to establish a government-run health insurance program by gradually transforming Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, over a two-year period until it covers all Americans.
“No family should go into debt or bankruptcy due to medical bills,” said Rep. Clarke who co-chairs the Medicare for All Caucus. “No family should have to create a GoFundMe page, just to receive enough funds for adequate medical care. No family should have to choose between rent or insulin. No mother should have to choose between food or chemotherapy. There are far too many Americans having to make tough decisions like these.”
The single-payer healthcare plan promises comprehensive benefits without premiums, co-pays or deductibles, and would include dental, vision, reproductive health services and maternal care, mental health and long-term care — all of which would be free at the point of use. Medicare for All would also cover hospital visits, medical devices, lab services and prescription drugs.
“Medicare for All builds and expands upon Medicare,” said Clarke. “It increases the choice of doctors for patients, while hospitals maintain their autonomy and independence. And perhaps the best part of this particular bill is that it eliminates out-of-pocket costs, saving everyday Americans money.”
The plan not only would bring coverage to 70 million un- or underinsured Americans, but also would overhaul the healthcare system to make it more effective and efficient, and help to lower the country’s overall healthcare costs, lawmakers said.
“The bill we’ve introduced will prevent healthcare corporations from overcharging for the costs of their services and profiting off illness and injury,” Clarke explained. “This legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices to substantially lower the costs of prescriptions drugs.”
Sounds too good to be true? While the bill goes into great details about the benefits of the plan, lawmakers still have to explain how it would be funded. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is set to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.