Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which proposes a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system by transforming Medicare into a universal health care program, therefore largely eliminating private and employer-based plans.
Fourteen senators joined Sanders as cosponsors of the legislation. They include fellow 2020 presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Though the Medicare for All Act does not include specifics on how the legislation would be financed, Sanders has released a separate document listing several possibilities including new progressive taxes on workers and on employers, higher taxes on the wealthy and a fee on large financial institutions. Several analyses estimate the cost to be over $30 trillion a decade.
Medicare for All, a popular issue with the liberal faction of the Democratic party, is typically met with a much cooler reception by party moderates, and polling indicates popular opinion leans moderate. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll found a majority (51 percent) of Democrats want Democratic lawmakers to focus on protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as opposed to Medicare for all. This is an increase from 41 percent in March 2018.
The same poll also found 58 percent of Americans oppose Medicare for all when they learn it would eliminate private health coverage, and 60 percent oppose it when they learn Medicare for all would require most Americans to pay more in taxes. (Ashley Kirzinger, Cailey Muñana & Mollyann Brodie, “KFF Health Tracking Poll – January 2019: The Public On Next Steps For The ACA And Proposals To Expand Coverage,” KFF, 1/23/19)
This topic promises to be a focal point of the 2020 presidential campaign with the discussion surely evolving as we get closer to election day. The American College of Radiology will continue to monitor and report developments as they happen.