The New York Times takes a look at some of the fine print in the Sanders Bill written by other Senators in better attempt address the basic question of HOW a move TOWARDS Universal Healthcare could actually begin….
The bill, introduced this week, has attracted the endorsement of 15 Democratic senators, including several of the party’s most ambitious liberals. But many more Democrats this week said they’d like to pursue more limited steps to expand health insurance coverage and the government’s role in the system. It turns out that the Sanders bill also has provisions along those lines. Taken together, the bill encapsulates much of the coming Democratic debate about the direction of health care.
In the statements of the bill’s co-sponsors, one can detect an openness to less transformational approaches to health reform. “This bill is aspirational, and I’m hopeful that it can serve as a starting point for where we need to go as a country,” Senator Al Franken of Minnesota wrote in a Facebook post. He described the bill as a “marker” and “one way to achieve universal coverage.”
Parts of the Sanders bill help establish a road map for what some other strategies might look like.
The provisions are tucked into Title X of the bill and describe the four-year transition between current policy and the Sanders bill’s goal of a Medicare-for-all system. During that interim, some younger Americans would be able to buy access to the traditional Medicare program, which is now mainly for those 65 and up. The provisions would also establish an option for Americans to buy access to a Medicare-like government plan that would be sold on the Obamacare exchanges.
The Medicare buy-in section comes from Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who has introduced the provision as a stand-alone bill.
“One part of the bill that I worked with my colleagues to put in was the ability for every American to buy into a nonprofit public option as part of a four-year transition to get to single-payer in this country,” she said during the news conference introducing the bill. “This would create affordable, public health care that is available to any American to purchase in the already available exchanges.”
The idea of mixing public and private insurance in a competitive marketplace was a goal of many Democrats during the writing of the Affordable Care Act. The hope was that a public option would provide more choice to consumers and more pricing discipline for insurers. The idea didn’t have enough support to stay in the final bill, but it has been experiencing a bit of a comeback. Before the 2016 election, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, endorsed a public option. Mrs. Clinton also endorsed the idea of a Medicare buy-in for older Americans.
Other Democrats are working on similar provisions that would provide more access to public health insurance without upending the existing private system. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has not endorsed the Sanders bill, has said he’s developing different legislation to allow Americans to buy into the Medicare program, as Ms. Stabenow’s provision in the Sanders bill does for Americans of certain ages. (A group of House Democrats has already offered one piece of legislation to create such a program.)….