by Jordan Roberts
Director of Government Affairs, John Locke Foundation
Today at 10 a.m. the House Rules Committee will hold a hearing on the Medicare for All Act of 2019. The House version of a massive government takeover of the healthcare sector is sponsored by Rep. Jayapal along with more than 100 co-sponsors. This bill is similar to the Medicare for All bill that has been championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. However, the House version would shift the country into a single-payer system much more rapidly compared to the Senate version. The lower bound estimates have put the price tag of such a system at nearly $32 trillion over the next decade along with massive tax hikes.
Congressional Republicans can’t agree on what healthcare reform should consist of at the federal level. This was very publically revealed in the failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017. The Trump Administration said it plans to run on a new healthcare plan in 2020 which they hope to implement if Trump wins a second term.
This disagreement over healthcare reform doesn’t stop at the Republican party. Democrats in Congress and Democratic presidential hopefuls are also not in complete agreement on the future of American healthcare. Some of the more progressive candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are calling for complete Medicare for All takeovers while more moderate candidates such as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi favor the addition of a public option for the government to sell insurance. It has been reported that Speaker Pelosi’s staff has met with health care industry giants to calm any fear that a Medicare for All bill will happen.
Healthcare remains the top issue for many voters as the current system continues to pose access and affordability problems for many patients. As calls for Medicare for All or similar plans that increase the scope of government involvement in healthcare continue to grow louder, it will be necessary for Congressional Republicans to engage in the healthcare debate. The time to demonize the Affordable Care Act has passed, and federal lawmakers need to explain their plans to the American people for how they will offer more choice, competition, and affordability in the healthcare market.