By Peter Sullivan, The Hill
Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports holding hearings on Medicare for all, her spokesman said Thursday, marking a major step forward for supporters of a single-payer health system. Some Democrats have been talking about holding hearings on the issue, but Pelosi's backing is seen as a boost for those efforts.
Pelosi had said last year that Medicare for all would “have to be evaluated” and is “on the table.”
The Washington Post reported Thursdaythat the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee will hold the hearings.
That would leave out the main committees with jurisdiction over the issue: Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. The chairmen of those committees have not given their backing to Medicare for all, while the chairmen of Rules and Budget have.
Pelosi’s support for hearings is a plus for the movement, but it’s unclear whether she would support further steps such as holding a vote on Medicare for all legislation.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) plans to introduce a new version of the Medicare-for-all legislation early in the new Congress.
She has been working to update the legislation and work out the concerns of some lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) told The Hill in Novemberthat he was “hopeful” he could support the new version if issues with last year’s bill were worked out.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee, already said last year that he planned to hold hearings on Medicare for all.
“Chairman Yarmuth plans to hold a hearing this Congress on the various approaches to expanding coverage and making health care more affordable, which would include different Medicare for All options,” spokesman Sam Lau said Thursday.
By contrast, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has thrown cold water on the idea.
“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for all or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said in November.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the incoming Ways and Mean chair, has been slightly more open to the idea, saying in December that Medicare for all deserved “a conversation.”
Democrats, however, face pressure from their left wing on the issue, not only from Jayapal but from a class of new members including incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).