Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plans to introduce “Medicare for All” legislation in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, and several big names (Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker) have already said that they will support the proposal. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), meanwhile, is working out the kinks on a “Medicaid for All” measure.
Here in Colorado, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy made a bold move on Tuesday by announcing her plans to push for a “Medicaid for All” program in our state. As the Denver Post reports:
Cary Kennedy announced Tuesday that she supports allowing anyone to buy into the state’s government-run Medicaid system — a policy stance that puts a line in the sand in the crowded 2018 Democratic primary on the issue of health care.
“My health care plan makes this promise: We can do better,” she said at a campaign event in Denver.
Kennedy said her proposal would not cost the state any money — instead, anyone who buys into the system will cover the cost of their care through premiums. The actual cost remains undetermined, but Kennedy said the cost of premiums could be 20 percent less than the rates available on the individual insurance market.
But the former state treasurer’s plan represents a significant extension of Medicaid and will open her to criticism from Republicans who want to curtail the program expanded under the Affordable Care Act and mired in ever-increasing costs to state and federal taxpayers.
Nevada’s legislature recently passed a “Medicaid for All” bill that was vetoed in June by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
What’s the difference between “Medicare for All” and “Medicaid for All”? We’ll hash this out in a separate post, but in general, “Medicare for All” is more of a federally-focused program while “Medicaid for All” is more of a state-centered plan (though neither idea can really be boxed in quite so easily).
From a purely political standpoint, Kennedy’s declaration today will likely speed up a Democratic shift toward being more openly favorable to a “public option-type” healthcare proposal. Republicans will no doubt respond gleefully to this news, though their rhetoric will have to be somewhat muted given their complete and utter failure at doing anything on healthcare with their majorities in Congress and control of the White House.