Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and 14 of his Democratic colleagues today introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, legislation that would create a national health insurance program for every U.S. resident within four years, and allow Americans to buy in to the Medicare program during the transition. The bill would create an agency headed by the Health and Human Services Secretary and six other individuals confirmed by the Senate to administer the law, and require all providers to sign a participation agreement. Under the bill, inpatient services would be paid under a global budget and outpatient services would be paid either under a global budget or capitated payments. Sanders also released a document with some options on how to pay for the legislation, which some analysts have estimated would cost more than $30 trillion over 10 years.
 
AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels said, “America’s hospitals and health systems share the goal of achieving universal coverage for all Americans. However, ‘Medicare for All,’ while promising a one-size-fits-all solution, would instead take away choice from millions of Americans and put access to vital health care services at risk.
 
“A recent study found that even a less extensive, government-run, Medicare-like health plan offered on the individual exchange could disrupt employer coverage for millions of people while creating unsustainable financial losses for hospitals to the tune of $800 billion.
 
“In addition, Medicare today pays hospitals less than the cost of providing care for patients. In 2017, the government paid only 87 cents for every dollar spent by hospitals caring for Medicare patients — a shortfall of $53.9 billion. In the President’s FY 2020 budget, the administration proposed $160 billion in new cuts to Medicare payments to hospitals. These unsustainable cuts raise the question of whether the government can be entrusted as the sole payer for more than 300 million Americans.
 
“Hospitals and health systems know that there is a better, less disruptive path to health coverage for all Americans. We believe that we must build on the current public-private system by expanding Medicaid in non-expansion states; stabilizing the insurance exchanges by restoring cost-sharing subsidies for low-income consumers and implementing well-designed reinsurance programs; increasing subsidies to more lower-income people wanting to purchase private coverage on the marketplaces; and funding efforts to help consumers enroll in health plans.
 
“We will continue working with policymakers to ensure that every person has access to quality, affordable care.”
 

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