Dem chairwoman plans hearing on Medicare for all proposals

Dem chairwoman plans hearing on Medicare for all proposals
© Greg Nash

The incoming chairwoman of a powerful health care subcommittee on Wednesday said that she intends to hold a hearing on several “Medicare for all” proposals, potentially giving the plans a chance to be considered by key lawmakers.

“There are several Medicare for all bills that are out there, but they all have a different interpretation,” Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHouse Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will cause overall health-care costs to rise Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans MORE (D-Calif.), the new chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, told reporters. “I think that it would be interesting to have the authors of these bills come to testify and explain what their bill does and have the members ask them questions.”

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Eshoo’s comments go farther than those made by the chairman of the full Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneAnti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age Overnight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group House Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group MORE (D-N.J.).

Pallone has not expressed interest in holding Medicare for all hearings, saying the proposal does not have the votes to pass.

Eshoo said a hearing would allow lawmakers a chance to ask questions like whether the Congressional Budget Office has done an analysis, “do you scrap the Affordable Care Act,” and what happens to people’s current insurance coverage.

'“I'm not making a judgment as to whether I think it’s a good idea or not,” Eshoo said, saying it would be “instructive” to hold a hearing.

In 2017, Eshoo cosponsored the main Medicare for all bill in the House, which was led by then-Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress Overnight Health Care: Pelosi asks how to pay for single-payer | Liberal groups want Dems to go bigger on drug prices | Surprise medical bill legislation could come soon MORE (D-Mich.).

House Democrats have largely remained divided on Medicare for all and how far to push for it with their new Democratic majority. Some more centrist lawmakers outright oppose the idea.

In a significant step forward for progressive backers of the idea, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general MORE (D-Calif.) said earlier this month that she supports holding hearings on Medicare for all.

Those hearings so far, though, are only slated to be in the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee, which are not the main committees that consider health care legislation, given that the chairmen of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means Committee have been less willing to embrace the idea.

Eshoo’s willingness to consider Medicare for all in her Energy and Commerce subcommittee would provide an opportunity to discuss the idea in one of the main health care committees.