Powerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week

Powerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week
© Greg Nash

A powerful House committee announced on Tuesday that it will hold a hearing next week on "Medicare for All," as well as several other proposals to expand health coverage, in a boost for backers of the progressive policy priority.

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing next Tuesday on the Medicare for All bill introduced by Reps. 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.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Coronavirus stimulus package shouldn't leave out older Americans MORE (D-Mich.), along with six other bills, including scaled-back “public option” proposals. 

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House committees have already held three hearings on Medicare for All so far this year, but the Energy and Commerce announcement is significant given that panel’s key role on health care. 

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.), had also been resistant to the idea of holding a hearing on Medicare for All, saying instead that he wanted to focus on strengthening ObamaCare. 

“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for All or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said in November 2018, shortly after Democrats took back the House. 

Jayapal, in particular, has been pushing for hearings on her bill for months. 

Despite getting hearings, Medicare for All is not expected to get a vote in the House this year or next as Democrats increasingly focus on the 2020 White House battle.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE (D-Calif.), while giving her support to airing ideas at a hearing, has been raising increasingly explicit warnings against the policy dominating her party’s presidential race, warning of its cost and that people do not want to lose their private insurance. 

“I’m not a big fan of Medicare for All,” she said last month.  

Medicare for All will also have to share the stage at the hearing with somewhat less ambitious proposals, including plans for optional government-run insurance backed by Reps. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements M ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters MORE (D-N.Y.) 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.). 

“Universal health care coverage has long been the North Star of the Democratic Party and it’s why the Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine seven legislative proposals that advance universal coverage for the American people,” Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman 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 (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday.