Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Michael Bennet reintroduced their "Medicare X" public option plan Tuesday in an effort expand health insurance coverage, but National Nurses United said the bill is "sub-par and wholly inadequate to address the healthcare crisis confronting our country."
"Now is not the time for half-measures, while lives are at stake," NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN, said in a statement.
Instead of embracing incremental measures, Cortez argued, Senate Democrats should line up behind Medicare for All, which would provide comprehensive health insurance to everyone at a lower overall cost to the nation.
"The solution to fix our healthcare is clear: the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384), which offers real patient choice, without devastating out of pocket costs," said Cortez. "The Medicare for All Act is backed by over 100 members of Congress and will guarantee quality healthcare for everyone."
Kaine readily admitted that his legislation would not fundamentally alter the current for-profit healthcare system, which has left 30 million Americans uninsured and over 80 million more underinsured.
"We preserve everything about the existing system," the Democrat from Virginia toldThe Hill. "And we just put one additional element into it."
According to Kaine's office, Medicare X would "build on the Medicare framework to establish a public insurance option."
Medicare X would allow Americans of all ages to buy a public insurance plan, which distinguishes it from other incrementalist plans Democrats have introduced in recent weeks—such as Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) proposal to let Americans buy-in to Medicare at age 50.
But, Cortez argued, Kaine and Bennet's plan would not do nearly enough to remedy the systemic problems and immense costs of the U.S. healthcare system.
"'Medicare X' does nothing but put a Band-Aid on our current broken system," Cortez said. "We nurses urge the Senate Democratic caucus to reject these sorts of half measures and instead put their full support behind H.R. 1384. National Nurses United, along with our allies, will continue to build the grassroots movement for genuine healthcare justice and push to pass Medicare for All."