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Moving forward on Medicare for All: House Hearing, and January Colloquium

December 11, 2019

Topics: Quote of the Day

By Jessie Hellmann
The Hill, December 10, 2019

“Medicare for All” supporters scored a victory Tuesday with a long-awaited hearing in one of the House’s most powerful committees, putting more focus on the health care proposal that has divided the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The Energy and Commerce Committee discussed the single-payer health plan backed by White House hopefuls Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after a sustained campaign led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and other members of the party’s liberal wing.

“Our movement is alive and well,” she told The Hill on Tuesday. “We’re just continuing to bring more and more people on board, and we’ll have more hearings, but these are substantive discussions, which is what really excites me.”

Medicare for All previously received hearings in the Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Budget committees.

Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill has the most co-sponsors — 119, more than half of the Democratic caucus — of the measures debated.

Jayapal said she and other backers are working to shore up support, and she expects to have two more hearings in the House next year.


“Proposals to Achieve Universal Health Care Coverage”

Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, December 10, 2019

Video of Hearing:

Testimony of the Honorable Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):

The Seventh Annual Global Health Economics Colloquium

UCSF-UC Berkeley-Stanford Colloquium – Medicare-for-All: How to Do It Right

Date and Time:
Friday, January 24, 2020
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM PST

International House
2299 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720

About this Event:

Single payer / Medicare-for-All is newly on the national political agenda. Two leading Democratic presidential candidates support it. Yet transforming how we pay for health care is a major task. If Medicare-for-All is adopted, how can we best design it to achieve universal coverage, high quality care, and affordability?

In this colloquium, we gather leaders in Medicare-for-All design from the U.S. along with international health system experts. The discussion will review current plans in Congress and from candidates, and will highlight the best approaches and trickiest issues in implementing Medicare-for-All.

Speakers Include:

  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D – WA), Chief Sponsor, HR 1384 Medicare for All Act 2019
  • Emmanuel Saez PhD, Professor of Economics, Director, Center for Equitable Growth, U.C. Berkeley
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs PhD, University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (by video).
  • David U. Himmelstein MD and Stephanie J. Woolhandler MD, Distinguished Professors, City University of New York at Hunter College; Lecturers, Harvard Medical School; co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program.
  • Joseph Kutzin, Lead, Health Financing Team, World Health Organization



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Yesterday I watched livestream the entire hearing of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The high point was the five minute testimony of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) wherein she presented the basis of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (link above) – a single payer model of an improved Medicare that includes everyone. Endorsement of the legislation was provided by Jean Ross, RN, Co-President, National Nurses United.

Other models that might be loosely grouped together as “Medicare for Some” were also discussed, but it was clear that they all fell short of the single payer version, in that they neglected to repair, to one degree or another, most of the major flaws in our current health care financing system.

The protracted comments and questions by the committee members fell roughly into three categories: endorsement of single payer Medicare for All, endorsement of public option Medicare for Some models, and Republican rejection of any expansion of Medicare (except private Medicare Advantage plans), peppering their statements with misleading rhetoric and factually-challenged remarks. An example of the latter is a statement made by witness Scott Atlas: “Single‐payer systems in countries with decades of experience have proven to be inferior to the US system in virtually every important objective measure of access to care and quality” – a blatant lie.

The good news is the growing support for single payer Medicare for All. Jayapal’s single payer bill is the only one that is co-sponsored by over half of the Democratic caucus.

Particularly exciting news (for me anyway) is that there will be a colloquium in Berkeley January 24 on “Medicare-for-All: How to Do It Right” (details at the link above). It will feature some of the most gifted experts in single payer reform, aka Medicare for All. I hope your schedules will allow some of you to attend. The event should turn up the rheostat on the reform movement.

Stay informed! Visit www.pnhp.org/qotd to sign up for daily email updates.

About the Commentator, Don McCanne

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Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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