House Reps Introduce Medicare-for-All Bill
For the 11th straight year, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has proposed the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, legislation that would establish a universal, single-payor healthcare program akin to Canada's and other developed countries' healthcare systems.
Rep. Conyers and 37 other House members introduced the bill, HR 676, which has been proposed in the House every year since 2003. Here are some elements of the bill:
• All individuals residing in the United States and any territory of the United States would be covered under the "Medicare For All Program." Each person would have a unique healthcare card.
• Healthcare benefits covered under the program include: primary care, inpatient and outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long-term and palliative care, mental health services, dental services, vision and hearing, approved dietary and nutritional therapies and more. Essentially, the current Medicare program's benefits would be extended to everyone.
• Private hospitals, physicians and other providers could continue to operate as private entities, but they would no longer be investor-owned. More specifically, for-profit hospitals would be required to convert to non-profit entities, but the for-profit owners would be compensated as a result of the conversion.
• Hospitals, health centers and other healthcare organizations would be paid a monthly lump sum within a global budget to cover all operating expenses. Physicians would be paid via fee-for-service payments or salaried positions.
• The Medicare For All Program would be funded through a trust fund. The trust fund would include existing sources of federal government revenue for healthcare, increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners and instituting modest taxes on payroll/self-employment income, unearned income, and stock and bond transactions.
Single-payor healthcare bills have been opposed by Republicans and others in the past, and there is no timetable for when Congress would act on the legislation.
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