Progressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All'

Progressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All'
© Stefani Reynolds

A progressive House Democrat on Friday unveiled a bill to make it easier for states to set up their own "Medicare for All" programs, providing a different potential path towards the goal. 

The bill from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Democratic lawmaker: It 'defies logic' for Trump to push Ukraine to investigate Biden Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) would allow states to apply for waivers with the federal government that would let states pool federal money to be used towards a single-payer system, combining money states currently get through programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. 

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The idea is that states could be early adopters of a Medicare for All system and inspire other states or the federal government to follow their lead. Khanna cited as an example the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which adopted government-run health insurance in 1947 before the idea expanded to the whole country. 

“While Senator McConnell and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE do all they can to obstruct progress at the federal level, this bill allows states with bold leadership to establish their own successful universal health care programs in order to prove how viable our movement is on the national level,” Khanna said in a statement. “This is how bold states like California can take the lead in making Medicare for All a reality.”

Khanna’s bill has no chance of passing the Senate under Republican control and with President Trump in the White House, but it could prove more amenable to some Democrats than a full-scale national single-payer plan if Democrats were to win back the Senate and White House in 2020. 

The bill has 15 co-sponsors in the House, including Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Dozens of lawmakers call for government surveillance reforms MORE (D-Wash.), a leader of the national single-payer bill in the House, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPoll: Biden and Sanders tied nationally, followed by Warren More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign Steyer, Biden clash over climate credentials MORE (D-N.Y.).

Vermont has already tried to establish a single-payer system at the state level, but eventually scrapped the plan in 2014 because of problems finding ways to pay for it.  

But supporters think the idea could work in a larger state with the aid of bills like Khanna’s.