Healthcare on the Hill - Progressive Think Tank "Medicare for All" Plan

While not on the Hill yet, a new “Medicare for all” plan that was recently released by a think tank may be headed that way if there are big changes in the majorities in the House and Senate (and the Presidency) in future elections.

The Democratic think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released a healthcare plan it calls “Medicare Extra For All.” The plan is a way to guarantee health care coverage for everyone in the United States.

Asked about the plan, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said that he believes it shows the Democratic Party is moving in his direction on health care.

The plan is not a single-payer system in that it allows for employer provided insurance as an option. However, similar to Senator Sanders' plan, it does provide Medicare coverage for all. While information about the total cost of the plan is still being developed, the plan includes a number of specifics about how costs would be controlled and how the plan would be financed.

Some highlights include:

  • It would control costs by using Medicare leverage to set prices.

  • It would increase rates paid to primary care physicians by 20% relative to certain rates for specialty physicians. This is to correct current Medicare rates that favor specialty physicians. CAP also states it is inline with extensive research indicating that greater spending on primary care results in lower costs and higher quality of care.

  • Medicare Extra would negotiate prices for prescription drugs, medical devices, and durable hardware.

  • Medicare Extra would yield savings from the administrative efficiencies Medicare enjoys compared to private insurance. Many people are surprised to learn that a government health care plan's administrative costs are significantly below those of large private companies. However, this is the case (though one reason for this is government reporting requirements for private insurance that are not required of government healthcare programs).

  • Medicare Extra would be financed in part by increasing health care tax and curtailing health care tax breaks for high earners. The plan defines high earners as singles with income above $200,000 and couples with income above $250,000.

  • There would also be increases in public health excise taxes. For example, taxes on cigarettes would be increased by $.50 per pack.

You can find the complete plan here:

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