House Budget Committee announces hearing on single-payer health care

House Budget Committee announces hearing on single-payer health care
© Greg Nash

The House Budget Committee on Friday announced that it will hold a hearing on single-payer health care on May 22, marking another step forward for the progressive proposal on Capitol Hill.

The hearing will be the second one on the idea of single-payer, sometimes called "Medicare for All," that House Democrats have held this year since taking back the majority.

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The upcoming hearing will be focused specifically on the budget implications and will feature testimony from three officials at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who are sure to be pressed by Republicans on the cost of the program.

The CBO released a report on single-payer earlier this month, but the report did not include a cost estimate for the proposal, instead describing various tradeoffs and choices around the idea in general terms.

While House Democrats are holding hearings on Medicare for All, Democratic leadership is not supporting the legislation itself and has expressed concerns with its cost.

House Democratic leaders are instead focused on smaller fixes to ObamaCare that seek to put Republicans in a tough position on protecting pre-existing conditions, an issue that helped Democrats win back the House last year.

Republicans, meanwhile, are eager for hearings on Medicare for all. They see attacking the idea as a winning political message on health care.

“House Budget Republicans are looking forward to speaking with CBO about the risks of imposing a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system, including higher taxes, fewer choices, and worse care," said Lauren Blair Aronson, a spokeswoman for the panel's Republicans. "The American people deserve to know not only how a proposal like Medicare-for-All will affect our budget and economy, but also how it will affect them personally.”

In addition to a first hearing in the House Rules Committee last month, the House Ways and Means Committee has also said it will hold a hearing on the idea.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees a wide array of health care issues, has so far declined to hold its own hearing.

This story was updated at 3:32 p.m.