Rep. Khanna, Progressives Reintroduce Universal Health Care System at State Level

State-Based Universal Health Care Act creates a waiver to allow states to develop their own plans to provide access to health ca
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Photos: YouTube\FactMyth

Washington, DC – Tuesday, Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), Congressional Progressive Caucus Deputy Whip and Member of the House Committee on Oversight, reintroduced the State-Based Universal Health Care Act.

Recognizing the unique position of American states to lead the push for universal health care, Rep. Khanna’s bill provides states with historic access to federal funding streams and regulatory flexibility necessary to implement and support affordable, universal health care plans.

“If the last year proved anything, it is that universal health coverage is not optional: it’s urgent,” said Rep. Ro Khanna. “We’ve seen the power in providing unfettered and uncomplicated access to rapid testing, treatment, and vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the wealthiest nation on earth, we must extend that kind of coverage to the whole of our health care system. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this critical legislation and give every state in this nation the power to provide coverage for their residents. This is precisely how bold states like California can take the lead in making Medicare for All a reality.”

The State-Based Universal Health Care Act creates a waiver to allow states to develop their own plans to provide access to health care for all their residents, via access to federal funding streams and regulations flexible enough to support affordable, universal health care plans. In order to apply for the waiver, participating states or groups of states must propose plans to provide health care coverage for 95 percent of their residents within five years. After that time, participating states would be required to demonstrate they reached coverage targets and provide a plan to cover the remaining five percent of their population. States that do not reach the 95 percent target after five years would have to revise their plan to achieve the targets, or risk losing their waiver. Federal technical assistance would be made available for states seeking help in developing and implementing these plans.

The State-Based Universal Health Care Act also requires benefits provided under state plans be equal to or greater than what federal beneficiaries receive now. An independent panel of health care experts and officials would evaluate whether a state’s proposal meets the requirements and would then provide a public recommendation of waiver application approval or rejection to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The provided regulatory flexibility and funding streams combined include:

(1) the requirements for the establishment, creation, and maintenance of health benefit exchanges;

(2) cost-sharing reductions under the ACA;

(3) premium tax credit and employer mandate under the ACA;

(4) Medicare;

(5) Medicaid;

(6) CHIP;

(7) FEHBP;

(8) TRICARE; and

(9) ERISA pre-emption provision.

States will have the freedom to devise their own individual state-based universal health care programs, as long as they meet the coverage breadth and depth requirements.

"A devastating pandemic has only underscored that we must do everything in our power to finally guarantee health care to everyone as a human right," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "As we continue building the movement inside Congress to pass Medicare for All nationwide, we must also support states that stand ready to provide health care for all of their residents while ensuring they have the resources necessary to do so."

“It is unacceptable that 30 million people in the U.S. remain uninsured and ​are denied quality care, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “Access to healthcare shouldn’t depend on how much money is in our pockets – it’s a fundamental human right that must be guaranteed for all. I’m proud to take up this effort with Rep. Khanna and my colleagues to expand quality care for the most vulnerable.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted existing inequities in access to and quality of health care across the country,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “Health care is a right, not a privilege and we have an obligation to provide care for all. For too long, health care costs have risen faster than inflation requiring millions of Americans to sacrifice more for their health and shutting the door on millions of others from receiving life-saving care. This system is not working for everyone and it’s unsustainable. This bill will give states like Washington the resources to create universal health care models that provide comprehensive, reliable health care to demonstrate a pathway to eventually enacting Medicare for All. Following four years of attacks on our health care system, it’s time we put the American public’s health first so that everyone can get the quality, reliable health care they deserve.”

“Over the past year, we saw millions of Americans lose their jobs, and with that, their health care,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones. “It has never been clearer that the employer-based healthcare system simply does not work in our modern economy. Health care is a human right, which is why I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the State-Based Universal Health Care Act, legislation to ensure a more equitable healthcare system for all. In the wealthiest country on Earth, it is unconscionable that millions of people are denied health care simply because they can’t afford it. By creating a waiver to authorize states to establish their own healthcare plans, this bill will bring us closer to finally guaranteeing healthcare coverage for all.”

“All people deserve high quality healthcare,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar. “I’m proud to support this bill that will allow states to use federal funds for their own universal health plan. This critical bill will revolutionize healthcare as we know it and incentivize states to finally make universal healthcare a reality.”

Original Cosponsors: Reps. Blumenauer (OR-03), Bonamici (OR-01), Bowman (NY-16), DeFazio (OR-04), Doyle (PA-18), Garcia (IL-04), Grijalva (AZ-03), Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Huffman (CA-02), Jayapal (WA-07), Jones (NY-17), Lee (CA-13), Levin (MI-09), Neguse (CO-02), Omar (MN-05), Pingree (ME-02), Pocan (WI-02), Pressley (MA-07), Raskin (MD-08), Schakowsky (IL-09), Smith (WA-09), Thompson (CA-05), Tlaib (MI-13), Watson Coleman (NJ-12).

Endorsed by: National Nurses United, Public Citizen, National Union of Healthcare Workers, One Payer States, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Healthy California Now!, Social Security Works.

The full bill can be viewed here. A Section-by-section summary can be viewed here.

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