Acknowledging that Medicare for All must be the end goal for an ultra-wealthy nation in which tens of thousands die each year due to lack of health insurance, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at making immediate fixes to the current system to protect consumers from the "nasty tricks" of the private insurance industry, lower prescription drug costs, and shield low-income families from premium hikes.
"We need Medicare for All—and until we get it, there's no reason private insurers can't provide coverage that lives up to the high standards of our public health care programs." —Sen. Elizabeth Warren"So long as private health insurance exists, there is no reason to allow our health care to be held hostage by insurance companies that refuse to do better," Warren said in a statement unveiled alongside her legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). "Our bill will hold them accountable while significantly improving access to healthcare for millions of Americans."
Warren summarized the main objectives of her bill—titled the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act (pdf)—in a video published on Twitter Wednesday:
Today I’m introducing the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act with @SenSanders & our colleagues. We need #MedicareForAll – and until we get it, there's no reason private insurers can't provide coverage that lives up to the high standards of our public health care programs. pic.twitter.com/Ke7laLd164
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 21, 2018
As the Huffington Post's Daniel Marans noted in an exclusive look at the legislation ahead of its release on Wednesday, Warren doesn't view her plan as an alternative to a single-payer system, and she remains a co-sponsor of Sanders' Medicare for All bill.
"We need a healthcare system that puts patients first—not insurance companies."
—Sen. Elizabeth WarrenRather, Warren is attempting to address problems in the short-term that are contributing to soaring healthcare costs and kicking Americans off their insurance entirely—from the Trump administration's relentless sabotage efforts to the outlandish costs of prescription drugs.
Under Warren's plan, for instance, insurance companies would "be barred from changing the kinds of drugs that they cover in the middle of the year, as well as how much of those drugs' costs are born by consumers," Marans notes. "Consumers would also be shielded from the effects of an insurer dropping a plan during their course of treatment."
"Too many Americans have to battle with their insurance companies just to see their doctor or get a prescription filled," Warren wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "We need a healthcare system that puts patients first—not insurance companies."