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What They’re Saying: E&C Republicans Challenge Dems to Hold Hearing on Medicare for All


02.07.19

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans pressed in a letter this week and at a hearing yesterday the need to hold a hearing on the Democratic Medicare for All proposal. This plan would take away private health insurance from more than 150 million Americans, end Medicare as we know it, and rack up more than $32-trillion in costs, not to mention potentially affecting access to health services.

House Republicans push Medicare for all hearings while Democrats stall

Republicans are pushing leaders of a key House committee to hold a hearing on Medicare for all, but the Democrats aren’t taking the bait.

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, the lead Republican on the health subcommittee, pressed in a letter this week and at a hearing Wednesday to publicly explore the proposal to create a national, government-run health insurance program.

Seeking to deflect criticism that they won’t protect Americans’ health care, Republicans are trying to bring attention to the growing popularity of — and divide over — Medicare for all among Democrats. The controversial idea seeks to expand affordable coverage, but carries a huge price tag and risks alienating those who want to keep their private insurance through their employers.

In a letter, they made their opposition clear. “Given the Committee’s broad health care jurisdiction, we have a responsibility to review any legislative proposal that is supported by so many members of the House majority, especially one that threatens to impact directly the lives of millions of Americans by upending how they receive their coverage, including those with employer and union sponsored plans,” they wrote.

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Democrats Unite to Begin Push to Protect Pre-Existing Condition Coverage

Republicans searched for divisions between Democrats hoping to shore up the Affordable Care Act and more progressive members pushing for a single, government-run insurance system. They taunted Democrats by demanding a public hearing on Democratic proposals for a single-payer health care system, known increasingly as Medicare for all.

“The American people should hear how House Democrats expect to address the massive costs associated with Medicare for all,” said Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “They need to know about the $32 trillion price tag for such a plan and the tax increases necessary to pay for it.”

Some Medicare-for-all proposals could end employer-sponsored health plans that now cover more than 150 million people, Mr. Walden said.

One-third of Senate Democrats and more than half of House Democrats have endorsed proposals to open Medicare to all Americans, as have some of the party’s presidential candidates.

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House Hearing On Texas Case Devolves Into Medicare For All Battle

The House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee spent more time debating whether to hold a hearing on Medicare for All than discussing the stated subject of Wednesday’s hearing — the implications of the ongoing federal case in Texas that could upend Obamacare. Though Republicans pledged their support to protect coverage of preexisting conditions and to fix the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers spent much of the hearing bashing Democrats for not bringing their single-payer proposals before the committees of jurisdiction.

The Wednesday (Feb. 6) hearing quickly devolved from a conversation about the ACA case, Texas v. United States, into a debate over a request from GOP lawmakers to hold a committee hearing on Medicare for All. Though Republicans are staunchly opposed to Medicare for All, right-leaning committee members made clear that they hoped to use the hearing to air their grievances about single-payer and to expose some of the downsides of the proposal. Their request also comes as the Democrats internally debate how to approach the push for single-payer.

Republican committee leaders on Tuesday (Feb. 5) sent a letter to committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and health subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) requesting a hearing on Medicare for All, given E&C’s broad health jurisdiction. Many committee Democrats ran on Medicare for All during the midterms and the House Rules and Budget committees have already announced they will hold hearings on the topic, ranking Republican Greg Walden (OR) and health subcommittee ranking Republican Michael Burgess (TX) noted. But those committees lack jurisdiction to move the bills forward.

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Democratic and Republican lawmakers clash over Medicare for All

A Republican congressman on Wednesday said he didn’t think much of a health-care panel’s hearing that he was participating in.

But his suggestion on what to do instead drew a scathing response from a Democratic colleague.

During a House subcommittee’s hearing on protecting insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess said the group should be using its time in other ways, because there is bipartisan support for such protections.

“Look, if you believe in ‘Medicare for All,’ if you believe in a single-payer, government-run, one-size-fits-all health system, let’s have a hearing right here in this subcommittee,” said Burgess, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee.

“Do I agree with the policy?” the Texas Republican added. “No, I do not, and I would gladly engage in a meaningful dialogue about what such a policy would mean for the American people.”

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Subcommittees
Health (116th Congress)
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