In response to the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal introduced the “Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act” on May 15, 2020. The Bill calls on Medicare to pay for all necessary medical expenses for all uninsured Americans, including those recently losing their employment-based coverage. Medicare would also pay all out-of-pocket expenses for those currently covered by private insurance, traditional Medicare, Medicaid and other public health programs.
In effect, all Americans would have access to comprehensive healthcare without any financial barriers until a COVID 19 vaccine is widely available. No enrollment would be necessary and all residents of the U.S. would be covered. The Bill empowers Medicare to purchase and distribute drugs and medical equipment at the same rates as negotiated by the Veterans Administration. It places a moratorium on medical debt collection and surprise billing and requires private insurers to maintain their levels of coverage and reimbursement for the duration of the crisis.
The bill in the house, now numbered and officially titled:
H.R.6906 – To provide reimbursements for certain costs of health care items and services, including prescription drugs, furnished during the public health emergency declared with respect to COVID-19
H.R.6906 has 18 co-sponsors as of May 19 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6906/cosponsors?r=12&s=1&searchResultViewType=expanded&KWICView=false).
The Senate version currently has six cosponsors: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) cosponsored the legislation.
If your legislators have not signed on to this bill, please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper with the legislator’s name in the letter, stating that you want them to support it.