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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 JayapalNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week White House raises refugee cap to 62,500 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' MORE (D-Wash.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week OSHA sends draft emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to OMB review Why the US needs a successful federal green bank 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 PalloneIntercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms 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 PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules 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 DelgadoCuomo job approval drops 6 points amid nursing home controversy: poll Cuomo takes heat from all sides on nursing home scandal We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroCapitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns Battle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July 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 EshooNIH readies grants for more research on long-term health effects of COVID-19 Lawmakers launch bipartisan caucus on SALT deduction Biden clean electricity standard faces high hurdles MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday.