'Historic step' taken toward healthcare justice as first-ever Medicare for All hearing scheduled next week

'Historic step' taken toward healthcare justice as first-ever Medicare for All hearing scheduled next week
Pramila Jayapal
Pramila Jayapal

In what grassroots activists celebrated as a "historic step" toward a just healthcare system that places the needs of patients over corporate profits, the House Rules Committee announced late Tuesday that it will hold the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All next week.

"I'm proud to announce this historic hearing on Medicare for All legislation," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), chairman of the Rules Committee, said in a statement. "I'm a proud co-sponsor of this bill. It's a serious proposal that deserves serious consideration on Capitol Hill as we work toward universal coverage."

The hearing on Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act of 2019—which currently has 108 co-sponsors in the House—will take place on Tuesday, April 30th at 10 am ET.

"Healthcare is a human right and I'm proud the Rules Committee will be holding this hearing on the Medicare for All Act," Jayapal said in a statement.

"Even with passage of the Affordable Care Act," the congresswoman added, "there are more than 70 million people either without coverage or have coverage that leaves them still unable to access medical care due to prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs. There is no other developed country on the face of the Earth that has a healthcare system that is as fragmented and costly as ours. The health outcomes and barriers to care in America are the worst of any industrialized nation."

Under Jayapal's legislation, the United States would transition to a single-payer system over a two-year period, and every American would receive comprehensive health coverage including dental, vision, reproductive health, and mental health for free at the point of service.

Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), celebrated the upcoming hearing on Twitter.

"We are excited Congress is taking this historic step by holding the first ever hearing for Medicare for All—the only true solution to this country's healthcare crisis," said Castillo.

As Common Dreams reported, NNU has been leading efforts to build support for Medicare for All at the grassroots as the ambitious proposal gains momentum in Congress.

The historic Medicare for All hearing was scheduled as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries continue to ramp up their campaigns against Medicare for All, which would virtually eliminate private insurance.

David Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth Group—America's largest private insurer—lashed out at Medicare for All during a call with investors last week, claiming the plan would "destabilize" the U.S. healthcare system.

Progressives were quick to hit back, arguing the true destabilizing force in American healthcare is the for-profit insurance model that imposes massive costs, leaves millions uninsured, and kicks millions off their insurance each year.

"Whether the UnitedHealth CEO likes it or not, we will no longer tolerate a system allowing him to make $83.2 million while Americans go bankrupt when they get sick," tweeted Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "The greed of UnitedHealth is killing Americans. Together, we will end it."


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