Beyond ‘Obamacare’: New Liberal Plan on Health Care Overhaul
A major liberal policy group is raising the ante on the health care debate with a new plan that builds on Medicare to guarantee coverage for all.
Called “Medicare Extra for All,” the proposal to be released Thursday by the Center for American Progress gives politically energized Democrats more options to achieve a long-sought goal.
Still, the plan would preserve a role for employer coverage and for the health insurance industry. Employers and individuals would have a choice of joining Medicare Extra, but it would not be required.
That differs from the more traditional “single-payer” approach advocated by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, in which the government would hold the reins of the health care system.
Even though the plan has no chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, center president Neera Tanden said, “We think it’s time to go bolder. There is consensus on the progressive side that universal coverage should be the goal and health care is a right.”
Picking up on the leftward shift among Democrats, Republicans are already working up rebuttals. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this month that “Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!”
The Center for American Progress is a think tank that was closely aligned with President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. A 2005 proposal from the center foreshadowed Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Medicare Extra would use Medicare’s thrifty payment system as framework to pool working-age people and their families, low-income people now covered by Medicaid, and seniors. A major missing piece: There’s no cost estimate for the plan, although its authors say that’s in the works.
The proposal comes at a time when polls show intense interest among Democrats and some independents in a government-run system that would guarantee coverage and benefits while reducing the complexity and out-of-pocket costs associated with private insurance. The future of health care is expected to be a defining issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, and political messages will be tested and honed in this fall’s midterm elections.