U.S. House Hearing, New CBO Report Identify Complicated Considerations for Single-payor, Medicare for All
May 02, 2019
As policy conversation in Washington, D.C., continues to explore avenues to advance health care reform and Democrat presidential hopefuls are challenged to define their perspectives regarding a single-payor health care system, a Congressional hearing in the U.S. House Rules Committee this week and a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) highlight the complicated considerations surrounding such a significant health care overhaul.
The concept of a single-payor health care system, in which government operates a tax-funded health insurance plan for all residents, has been a mainstay of political health care reform discussions for years. During February, progressive leaders in Congress introduced H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which would transition all Americans into a government-run, single-payor, universal Medicare program over two years, eliminating private insurance. The legislation would make it unlawful for a private health insurer or employer to provide the same benefits as the new program, and would pay for hospital services under a global budget.
The U.S. House Rules Committee held a hearing on the Medicare for All legislation. Pennsylvania Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA05) framed the hearing as an important opportunity to earnestly explore the opportunities and challenges in pursuing universal coverage through a Medicare for All-type framework.
Witnesses from the Center for Popular Democracy, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Commonwealth Fund, National Medical Association, Galen Institute, and Mercatus Center and a physician advocate for a national health insurance program provided testimony and responded to Congressional questions.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) submitted testimony stating: "America's hospitals and health systems are committed to the goal of affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every American. However, 'Medicare for All' is not the solution. Instead, we should build upon and improve our existing system to increase access to coverage and comprehensive health benefits."
Also this week, the CBO released a report focusing on key design components and considerations for policymakers interested in establishing a single-payor system. The CBO report speaks to the complicated undertaking in defining the sources and extent of coverage, payment rates for providers, and financing methods.
Pennsylvania hospitals support efforts to ensure coverage for all individuals and look forward to continuing to engage with the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation to inform policy conversations about expanding access to coverage and care. HAP shares the AHA’s concerns that Medicare for All does not represent the best solution. HAP supports efforts to reinforce the framework put into place by the Affordable Care Act.
For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s vice president, federal legislative advocacy.