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 YarmuthHouse Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Kentucky Democrat: House lawmakers will not vote remotely during outbreak Dem Congressman: Coronavirus stimulus should be bigger than 2008 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 JayapalSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report Pelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Critical supplies shortage hampers hospitals, health providers 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 ConyersFormer impeachment managers clash over surveillance bill VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems release first transcripts from impeachment probe witnesses 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 SchakowskyThe Memo: Virus crisis upends political world Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 5G rivals to Huawei | Amazon, eBay grilled over online counterfeits | Judge tosses Gabbard lawsuit against Google | GOP senator introduces bill banning TikTok on government devices Lawmakers grill Amazon, eBay executives over online counterfeits MORE (D-Ill.) and Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroWork Share: How to help workers, businesses and states all at once Trump administration issues guidance scaling back paid leave requirement for small business employees Stimulus price tag of .2T falls way short, some experts say 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 EshooBottom line Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter dismantle Russian interference campaign targeting African Americans | YouTube to allow ads on coronavirus videos | Trump signs law banning federal funds for Huawei equipment House Democrats introduce bills to penalize census misinformation MORE (Calif.), chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s health panel; Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (Md.), chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchOcasio-Cortez knocks Pence: 'Utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response' Father of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report MORE (Fla.), chairman of the Ethics Committee; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children MORE (Calif.), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee. 

None of their offices responded to a request for comment. 

Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill Senate closes in on trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill 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.