According to The New York Times, politicians from both sides of the political spectrum are still trying to reform Barack Obama’s health care law.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed “Medicare for all.”
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have proposed a bill that would send states block grants from the federal government.
Observers do not believe either plan will be passed by the current Congress.
Sixteen senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) all expressed support for Sanders’s proposal.
All four senators are possible candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
Sanders introduced his proposal at a rally-like event. The audience included patients, nurses, union members, and the senator’s devoted fans.
Graham and Cassidy’s proposal was not surrounded by fanfare. Many observers believe their proposal represents the final chance Congressional Republicans will have to undo the ACA.
Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) joined Graham and Cassidy.
The Graham-Cassidy proposal would use block grants instead of spending money on Medicaid expansion, cost sharing reduction subsidies, and premium tax credits. The senators conceded that states that have chosen to spend more money on health care will receive less money under their proposal.
The proposal also makes significant cuts to Medicaid and eliminates the individual mandate.
However, their proposal must be taken up before September 30. After that date, it will no longer be covered by the special reconciliation rules. This means 60 votes, not 50, would be required for passage.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the Senate would probably not consider the proposal. Not only would the bill need a score from the Congressional Budget Office, but Cornyn said he does not think it has the votes needed to pass.
Sanders, on the other hand, does not seem to expect his bill to pass. He expects it to serve as a benchmark that liberal candidates can appeal to. Sixty percent of House Democrats have endorsed a similar measure sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (R-Mich.).
“Medicare for all” would radically change the American health care system by eliminating deductibles and most out-of-pocket costs. Sanders admitted it would be expensive, but suggested that a nominal tax increase on the wealthiest Americans could fund the proposal.
The Democratic leadership said its first priority is to keep the ACA’s current protections intact.