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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 JayapalBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Trump, attorneys step up efforts to reverse election's outcome MORE (D-Wash.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellGM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards Ex-AG Holder urges GOP to speak against Trump efforts to 'subvert' election results McEnany disputes any Trump 'advocacy' with invite to Michigan lawmakers 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 PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine 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 PelosiSpending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 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 DelgadoMaloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Next Congress expected to have record diversity MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations DeLauro racks up labor endorsements for Appropriations gavel 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 EshooHow to expand rural broadband, fast and affordably Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday.