Sanders and Jayapal Put Forth Bill to Provide No-Cost ‘Health Care for All During Pandemic’

Common Dreams – By Jake Johnson – April 10, 2020

“We have got to work together to make sure that anyone in America who is sick—regardless of their income or immigration status—can seek the medical treatment they need during this national emergency.”

As the number of Americans without health insurance continues to rise rapidly due to ongoing mass layoffs across the nation, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Friday introduced emergency legislation that would empower Medicare to cover all healthcare costs for the uninsured and all out-of-pocket expenses for those with insurance for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

“Our broken healthcare system is failing to protect millions of Americans from the coronavirus pandemic,” Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to take bold action to prevent more Americans from getting sick or dying.”

If passed, the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act (pdf) would take effect immediately and remain in place until the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies to Congress that a Food and Drug Administration-approved coronavirus vaccine is widely available to the U.S. public.

The legislation to “provide health for all during the pandemic,” according to a summary (pdf) released by Sanders’ office, would “fully cover the cost of medically necessary healthcare, including prescription drugs,” for the tens of millions of Americans currently without health insurance.

An analysis by Health Management Associates earlier this month warned that the total number of uninsured Americans could rise to 40 million within the next several months if U.S. job losses continue at the current rate.

For Americans with either public or private insurance, “Medicare will cover the copays, deductibles, and other cost-sharing for all medically necessary healthcare, including for prescription drugs,” the summary of the bill states.

“When individuals go to the hospital or doctor, they will provide their insurance information as usual,” the summary explains. “The provider will use this information to bill Medicare—either for the out-of-pocket costs if the individual has another type of insurance, or for all of the care if the individual is uninsured. The patient will not be charged anything.”

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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