“Medicare-for-All” Bill Introduced
On February 28, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), joined by another 105 Democrats, introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384). The bill would expand the Medicare program to cover all U.S. residents within two years after enactment. It would eliminate all out-of-pocket costs for all benefits except prescription drugs and would also cover long-term services and supports. See a summary of the Medicare for All Act, section-by-section explanation, and the full text of the bill. See also ‘Medicare For All’ Bill Unveiled: ‘Complete Transformation’ Of Health Care (NBC News, 1/26/19).
“Money Follows the Person” Bills Introduced
On February 25, bipartisan House and the Senate bills were introduced to extend the Money-Follows-the-Person (MFP) demonstration program. The House bill (H.R.1342) was introduced by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY). The Senate bill (S.548) was introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). This legislation, called the EMPOWER Act, is an updated version of a bill introduced in the last Congress that did not get enacted. Rather, a measure was enacted last year to provide the equivalent of three-month’s worth of funding for the program from which grants could be awarded through September 30, 2021. The new bill would permit the awarding of grants through September 30, 2023, and provide more funding for the program. The new bill would also amend the MFP program by, among other changes, lowering the institutional length of stay required to qualify for the program from 90 to 60 days.
Surprise Medical Bills
A bipartisan group of Senators is focused on addressing the issue of “surprise medical bills,” which generally arise when people are billed for medical services that they thought would be covered by their insurance, such as when an out-of-network provider delivers services in an in-network facility (often an emergency-room physician or an anesthesiologist). The Senators may have legislation ready to introduce by the end of this month. See GOP Senator: Legislation Combating Surprise Medical Bills Could Come in March (The Hill, 2/28/19).