Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the lead House sponsor of the sweeping “Medicare-for-all” health care plan, said this week that her proposed program would force about 1 million employees of private health insurance companies out of their jobs.
She made the remarks during a town hall at American University, while stressing her goal to try and help those "displaced" by a shift to a government-managed health care system.
"There are a lot of people who work in the private insurance industry," Jayapal said. “We have thought carefully about how we’d take care of those folks because we think those people are very important.”
In video taken by conservative group “America Rising,” she predicted “there's about a million people we think will be displaced if 'Medicare-for-all' happens” and then outlined how her bill would “take care” of those people whose jobs are made redundant.
"We have set aside one percent a year of the total cost of the bill for five years to take care of a transition for employees in the private insurance sector," Jayapal said. "If they are able to retire, that might be one, pension guarantees, job training so they can move into a different system."
The bill, which was introduced in February by Jayapal and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., was co-sponsored by more than 100 House Democrats. A number of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have given their support to similar “Medicare-for-all” plans -- including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who introduced a new version last month -- though the proposal has seen skepticism from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The displacement of private insurance workers would be inevitable under the kind of sweeping overhaul being proposed -- as would the transfer of millions of patients off their current policies, an issue that has proved a thorny one on the campaign trail.
The text of Jayapal’s bill makes clear that private policies largely would be eliminated. One clause in the bill makes it “unlawful” for a private health insurer “to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.” The text prohibits employers from doing the same.
The proposal took a step forward this week as the House Rules Committee held a hearing to look at the bill, with Republicans warning that the price tag could be as high as $32 trillion and describing the plan as a form of socialism.
“Medicare-for-All would require all Americans to pay more in taxes, wait longer for care and receive potentially worse care, even worse it would put our existing Medicare recipients at risk,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said
But Democrats on the panel offered support and downplayed Republican predictions of chaos if the plan were implemented.
“People aren’t going to lose their health care with Medicare-for-all, you’d actually get to keep your doctors, and go to your hospitals that you currently have -- the only difference is that you wouldn’t have to deal with insurance companies,” Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said.