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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 EshooNIH readies grants for more research on long-term health effects of COVID-19 Lawmakers launch bipartisan caucus on SALT deduction Biden clean electricity standard faces high hurdles 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 PalloneIntercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms 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 ConyersDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Chicago suburb could serve as road map for reparations 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 PelosiFive takeaways on the House's return to budget earmarks Pelosi mocks House GOP looking for 'non-threatening female' to replace Liz Cheney Caitlyn Jenner: California needs a 'thoughtful disruptor' 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.