Congress must address how Americans are going to pay for pandemic health care. The 30 million workers who have recently lost their jobs — and for many that means their health care — join 89 million already uninsured or underinsured.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal will soon introduce the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act. It covers all out-of-pocket charges for those with insurance and all charges for those without any coverage. There would be no surprise bills, drugs would be covered and paid for at the same rates as does the VA, and insurance companies couldn’t reduce current coverage.
Call your members of Congress and urge them to sign on as an original co-sponsor of Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act: 202-224-3121.
A competing bill that sounds good
Congress could pass HR 6514, the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which will pay the COBRA premiums for people who have lost their jobs in the current pandemic. This sounds good, but it’s corporate welfare—hundreds of billions will go to insurance corporations, while the unemployed will still be on the hook for deductibles, copays, out-of-pocket charges, surprise bills, and denied claims. Those already un- or underinsured will remain at risk.
COBRA bailout costs more: Health Management Associates estimates that subsidizing COBRA premiums would cost $157 billion over four months, $472 billion over a year.
A better bill
The Medicare Crisis Program Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jayapal and Joseph Kennedy, would cover anyone eligible for unemployment insurance with Medicare, paying 100% of COVID-19 testing and treatment costs and any other medical expenses. Most of those already un- or underinsured would remain at risk.
The best bill would cost less
The conservative Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the Sanders/Jayapal Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, by allowing Medicare to cover out-of-pocket expenses for everyone, would cost around $150 billion over four months, $400 billion over a year. And it covers those recently unemployed and those already un- and underinsured. It covers everyone, and for less.
Let’s choose the health care we all need, not bailouts for the wealthy few. Call 202-224-3121 now to urge our U.S. Congress members to co-sponsor the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act.
May our challenges open a pathway to a more just and dependable society for us all.