After Democrats held the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All last month, the House Budget Committee on Wednesday morning invited federal officials to testify at an historic second hearing on the costs replacing the nation's current for-profit system with one that guarantees healthcare as a right for all Americans.
Unlike the hearing in April in the House Rules Committee, Wednesday's hearing did not feature outside experts or activists. Instead, all three witnesses are officials from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress.
Given the hearing's focus on a recent CBO analysis, Susannah Luthi highlighted "five things to listen for as Republicans look for points for 2020 campaign messaging and Democrats try to keep the focus on how to close the coverage gap that persists despite the Affordable Care Act" in an article for Modern Healthcare: cost, hospital ownership, private insurance, rates, and limiting utilization.
The hearing's restrictive witness list did not stop advocates of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384)—introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) in February—from showing their support. On Tuesday, 209 economists signed a public statement which says in part, "the time is now to create a universal, single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system in the United States."
— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) May 21, 2019
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Jean Ross, Zenei Cortez, and Deborah Burger—co-presidents of National Nurses United, the group that shared the economists' statement—welcomed the hearing on Wednesday, calling it "another step towards passing this vital piece of legislation."
The CBO's report on the bill, the nurses said in a statement, "shows that a Medicare for All system can be designed and implemented in the United States in a way where every man, woman, and child can have guaranteed, safe, therapeutic healthcare and that the country can save trillions of dollars in the process."
Other backers of Jayapal's bill drew attention to the 12 Democratic lawmakers on the committee who have not yet signaled their support for the measure, urging their constituents to put pressure on their elected representatives. As former congressional candidate Amy Vilela put it, "It's time for bold leadership—lives depend on it!"
There's a House Budget Cmte hearing 5/22 for HR 1384 #MedicareForAll
12 members have NOT yet signed the bill.
Is your rep listed below? Call them today to ask that they cosponsor H.R. 1384 & advocate for bill at the hearing.
It's time for bold leadership - lives depend on it! pic.twitter.com/5iP1JqwY8h
— Amy Vilela (@amy4thepeople) May 21, 2019