Digging into the details of single-payer healthcare
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill rolled up their sleeves this week and began to explore what a shift to Bernie Sanders-style “single payer” healthcare would really mean. In a hearing before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, Congress heard from proponents of M4A and policy experts about the implications of single-payer health coverage, at least as envisioned by a recent bill authored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
Although the committee does not have direct jurisdiction over Medicare, and Jayapal’s bill may never be introduced onto the floor of the House (since it lacks support from the Democratic leadership there), the hearing gave lawmakers their first chance to publicly probe the proposal, with predictable positions staked out by Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
More hearings are likely later this year, including by the House Budget Committee, which this week received a report it requested from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the topic of single-payer healthcare. While the report does not address specific details about the cost or tax implications of a shift to single payer, it nonetheless provides an outstanding primer on the key questions that will have to be answered as part of any serious attempt to pursue M4A.
The graphic below, taken from the CBO document, poses those questions in a clear and helpful way, and the full report lays out a framework for approaching them. It’s a sober look at the hard problems that need to be faced: provider payment levels, increased wait times, public vs. private financing, access to unproven treatments.
Whatever your view on the topic, we’d highly recommend reading the CBO report in full.