[SEATTLE, WA] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and lead sponsor of H.R. 1384, the 2019 Medicare for All Act, today introduced a bill that would ensure that all families can afford to seek treatment for COVID19 by using Medicare’s existing, efficient and direct payment structure. The legislation was introduced along with Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37) and 17 of their House colleagues. Under the bicameral Emergency Health Care Guarantee Act, the federal government would cover all costs of treatment for uninsured Americans as well as all out-of-pocket costs for those with private or public insurance throughout the duration of the pandemic. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Our broken health care system is failing to protect millions of Americans from the coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to take bold action to prevent more Americans from getting sick or dying,” Rep. Jayapal said. “Everyone in America should have guaranteed access to health care, especially during a national emergency.”
According to Data for Progress, 73 percent of American voters support Medicare covering all out-of-pocket health expenses during this emergency, including 58 percent of Republicans. In comparison, 55 percent backed a separate proposal to cover the cost of insurance premiums through COBRA, a federal program that allows those who have lost their jobs to temporarily retain their former employers’ health insurance coverage. When presented with evidence that the Emergency Health Care Guarantee Act is significantly less expensive despite covering more people, 61 percent favored this approach.
The bill has been endorsed by 32 national organizations and unions, including the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Nurses United, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America; Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MoveOn.Org, National Domestic Workers Alliance, People’s Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, Sunrise Movement, United We Dream, Working Families Party, Business for Medicare for All, Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute, Democracy for America, Democratic Socialists of America, Economic Opportunity Institute, Economic Policy Institute, Faith Action Network, Healthcare-NOW, Hometown Action, Jane Addams Senior Center, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Legal Voice, Medicare for All Now, Partners for Dignity & Rights, Presente.org, and Progressive Democrats of America.