Politicians are depicting a system in meltdown, but the numbers tell a different story, not as dire and more nuanced. Government surveys show that about 90% of the population has coverage. Independent experts estimate that more than one-half of the roughly 30 million uninsured people in the country are eligible for health insurance through existing programs. The bigger issue than lack of coverage seems to be that many people with insurance are struggling to pay their deductibles and copays.
Lawmakers are trying to set aside their irreconcilable differences over the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and work to reach bipartisan agreement on a more immediate health care issue, lowering costs for people who already have coverage.
Returning from their Fourth of July recess, the Senate and House are pushing to end surprise medical bills, curb high prices for medicines, and limit prescription copays for people with Medicare.
California will become the first state to pay for some adults living in the country illegally to have full health benefits as the solidly liberal bastion continues to distance itself from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Democrats in the state Legislature reached an agreement Sunday afternoon as part of a broader plan to spend $213 billion of state and federal tax money over the next year. The legislature is expected to approve the deal this week. The agreement means low-income adults between the ages of 19 and 25 living in California illegally would be eligible for California’s Medicaid program, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The Medicare for All plan embraced by leading 2020 Democrats appears more lavish than what other advanced countries offer, compounding the cost but also potentially broadening its popular appeal. The plan from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would charge no premiums, copays or deductibles, allowing only limited cost-sharing for some prescription drugs. It would cover long-term care, dental, vision, hearing coverage and much more. But while other countries do guarantee coverage for all (but with often significant restrictions in access to actual care), the promised benefits vary significantly—and none are as comprehensive. [Supporters of the plan might want to read this scathing review of a book, “The Socialist Manifesto,” that chronicles the disasters that have ensued from this utopian political philosophy.]
Democrats pushed through the House Thursday legislation that they say fortifies the ACA and also curbs prescription drug prices. The bill seems engineered with next year’s elections in mind since it has no chance of surviving in the Senate or getting President Trump’s signature. The measure forced Republicans into the uncomfortable political position of casting a single vote on legislation that contained popular bi-partisan drug pricing restraints they support, but also language they oppose about the Affordable Care Act. [The bill would undo many of the consumer-friendly changes the Trump administration has made through its regulatory authority]. In the end, all but five voting Republicans opposed the overall package; the measure passed by a mostly party-line vote of 234-183.
Tennessee would dramatically overhaul how it provides health care to its lower-income and disabled residents under a proposal the House advanced Thursday.
The bill cleared the GOP-dominated chamber on party lines, with 68 Republicans in favor and 21 Democrats against.
It’s a proposal considered one of the top policy debates of the sessions, yet many in the minority party were visibly upset after being cut off from the debate and forced to cast a vote before all members had a chance to speak.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy told President Donald Trump that the state is open to the idea of receiving Medicaid funding through fixed amounts annually. The block grant approach could allow the state more flexibility in how it spends Medicaid funding, Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow told Alaska Public Media. The Republican governor wrote to the president last month that Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, had urged the state to become the first receive the federal funding this way. He noted that Alaska is eager to do it.
“Medicare-for-all” is quickly becoming a rallying cry for many Democratic White House hopefuls, but there are growing questions about how to pull off such a dramatic switch to a government-run health care system.
The debate over scrapping private insurers has heated up in recent days since Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a supporter of “Medicare-for-all,” told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “Who of us has not had that situation, where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
“Medicare-for-all” makes a good first impression, but support plunges when people are asked if they’d pay higher taxes or put up with treatment delays to get it.
The survey, released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, comes as Democratic presidential hopefuls embrace the idea of a government-run health care system, considered outside the mainstream of their party until Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders made it the cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. President Donald Trump is opposed, saying “Medicare-for-all” would “eviscerate” the current program for seniors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is laying out her strategy on health care and first up is improvements to “Obamacare” and legislation to lower prescription drug costs. “Medicare for all” will get hearings.
Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been sounding similar themes about the need to address the high drug costs. But her plans to broaden financial help for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act are unlikely to find takers among Republicans.
Either way, Democrats believe voters gave them a mandate on health care in the midterm elections that returned the House to their control.