Members of Congress today unveiled two major efforts to overhaul the current Affordable Care Act health insurance rules.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, launched a version of the Medicare for All bill, which would create a completely government-run system for providing health insurance in the United States.
(Related: Single-Payer Takes Spotlight)
Sanders introduced the single-payer health finance bill with support from 16 Democratic cosponsors: Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Cory Booker of New Jersey; Al Franken of Minnesota; Kristen Gillibrand of New York; Kamala Harris of California; Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Edward Markey of Massachusetts; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Brain Schatz of Hawaii; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Tom Udall of New Mexico; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
Over on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., launched a new version of H.R. 1628, the Republicans’ Affordable Care Act change bill, together with Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Dean Heller of Nevada; and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Graham and Cassidy also brought in Rick Santorum, a Republican who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate, and a note from Alan Greenspan, a former Federal Reserve chairman.
Supporters of the Medicare for All bill have posted a package of documents, including a copy of the text of the bill and description of possible funding mechanisms, here.
Supporters of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson have posted a package of documents related to the launch of their bill here.
Political analysts are not expecting either the Medicare for All team or the Graham-Cassidy team to have much luck with getting its proposal through Congress in time to have any effect on health coverage in 2018, but either package, or both, could shape future legislation.
The Medicare for All bill launch video (Video: Sanders)
The Affordable Care Act itself, for example, is made up partly of proposals that showed up in Congress for many years before they actually became law.
For a look at five points from the Medicare for All bill that might interest insurance agents and brokers, and five points of interest from the Graham-Cassidy bill, read on.
Medicare for All
Sanders and other bill supporters say they based their new bill on earlier Medicare for All bills introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.
The bill would:
1. Provide complete coverage for all medically necessary acute care and short-term care, including dental, vision and audiology care. It would not cover long-term care, but it would require states to spend at least as much on long-term care services as they do now.
2. Eliminate all cost-sharing for medically necessary care other than up to $200 in out-of-pocket costs per year for prescription drugs.
3. Ban the sale of private health insurance that duplicated Medicare for All program coverage. An insurer could, however, still cover services that were not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery.