Key Dem chairman voices skepticism on 'Medicare for all' bill

Key Dem chairman voices skepticism on 'Medicare for all' bill

House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push Ex-CBO director calls for more than trillion in coronavirus stimulus spending Rep slams 'vulgar images' and 'racist words' that disrupted virtual youth anti-violence event MORE (D-Ky.) is expressing skepticism about a new "Medicare for all" bill introduced this week, although he has supported similar measures in the past.

Yarmuth, who has supported Medicare for all bills since arriving in the House in 2006, says a new version introduced this week by Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (D-Wash.) goes far beyond what he considers to be Medicare for all.

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“I don’t consider that to be Medicare for all. It’s universal health care, on demand, unlimited,” Yarmuth told The Hill on Thursday. “It’s all single-payer, no private insurance. It’s a very different thing than Medicare.” 

Most recently, Yarmuth co-sponsored the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act introduced in 2017 by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersLocal reparations initiatives can lead to national policy remedying racial injustice Former impeachment managers clash over surveillance bill VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing MORE Jr. (D-Mich.).

But he hasn’t signed on to Jayapal’s bill, stating that he’s trying to remain neutral as the chairman of the committee that would decide how such proposals are funded. 

But Yarmuth has shared his skepticism about the contents of Jayapal’s bill. 

“I’m not sure there is anywhere in the world that does what her bill does. There’s no cost sharing at all, and that’s not Medicare,” he said. 

“The problem with that is if you’re trying to market it to the public and convince them it’s a good idea, the public understands what Medicare is. ... This would be something very different,” he said. 

Yarmuth pointed to a bill sponsored by Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds House Democrats press Twitter, Facebook, Google for reports on coronavirus disinformation Dingell pushes provision to curtail drunk driving in House infrastructure package MORE (D-Ill.) and Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroHouse panel advances health bill with B in emergency COVID-19 funds Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings MORE (D-Conn.) as a true version of Medicare for all that would retain private health insurance. 

Individuals without employer-sponsored health insurance would be automatically enrolled in the program, but they could opt out. They’d also be required to contribute some money toward their coverage.

There are other bills introduced by House Democrats that would let individuals buy in to Medicare at the age of 50 or 55. 

Jayapal’s bill would replace private insurance companies with a government-run health insurance system.

She has not said how it would be paid for, but similar versions have been estimated to cost $30 trillion over 10 years. 

Yarmuth said he plans to hold a Budget Committee hearing on all proposals that would expand Medicare, possibly in June, and will meet with all of the sponsors of the various bills. 

“We want their input as to how they would like the hearings to be held and what we actually try to accomplish,” he said.  “I don’t think Pramila, for instance, wants us to assess what her version costs.” 

Jayapal’s bill has less support than the Conyers bill released in 2017. His bill had 124 co-sponsors, while she has 106. 

Jayapal told reporters this week that it’s not a sign the idea has lost support, noting that many of those co-sponsors did not sign on immediately when the bill was introduced in the previous Congress, and she expects to keep collecting supporters. 

Some Democrats that supported Conyers bill have since left Congress. His bill was also introduced while Democrats were in the minority, and it was much vaguer than Jayapal’s. 

Still, a number of committee leaders and members of the Democratic House leadership that supported Conyers’s bill have not co-sponsored Jayapal’s version: Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Why drug costs for older Americans should be capped in pandemic's wake Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse MORE (Calif.), chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s health panel; Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFacial recognition tools under fresh scrutiny amid police protests The sad spectacle of Trump's enablers Democrat Kweisi Mfume wins House primary in Maryland MORE (Md.), chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases US lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization 189 House Democrats urge Israel to 'reconsider' annexation MORE (Fla.), chairman of the Ethics Committee; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenState and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November FEC commissioner resigns, leaving agency without a quorum again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE (Calif.), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee. 

None of their offices responded to a request for comment. 

Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesReparations bill gains steam following death of George Floyd Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court ruling marks big win for abortion rights groups MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Democratic whip, also supported the Conyers bill but have not co-sponsored Jayapal’s bill.