House Budget Chairman Requests CBO Input on Design of ‘Single-Payer’ Health Legislation

January 9, 2019 Updated: January 9, 2019

In a letter to the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) asked the agency to examine the logistics of the single-payer system and how it would affect the federal government.

Yarmuth’s letter is the latest sign that progressives are pushing hard for the establishment of a single-payer health care system, often referred to as “Medicare for All.” He asked in the letter addressed to CBO Director Keith Hall for a list of logistical and financial concerns that lawmakers will need to consider in attempting the health care overhaul.

A report from the nonpartisan CBO would be a precursor to Budget Committtee hearings. The hearings would then be the first step in passing legislation toward a single-payer system.

“Members of Congress developing proposals seeking to establish a single-payer system will face many important decisions that could have major implications for federal spending, national healthcare spending, and access to care,” Yarmuth said in the Jan. 8 letter.

Yarmouth specifically asked for the report, in part, to cover how the system would be administered, who is eligible for coverage, how they would be enrolled, what services would be covered, and what role, if any, private insurers would play.

He said the report won’t calculate the effects of any particular proposal, but would “to the extent feasible, provide a qualitative assessment of how the choices with respect to major design issues would affect such spending.”

Progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have repeatedly advocated for the health care revamp, especially after Democrats took over the House. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a $100 million health care plan covering an estimated 600,000 uninsured residents, including 300,000 illegal immigrants. It’s set to be implemented by 2021.

Meanwhile, Yarmuth criticized the economic feasibility of Ocasio-Cortez’s ambitious new environmental agenda dubbed the “Green New Deal.” The plan aims to completely eliminate carbon emissions and replace it with 100 percent renewable energy.

“The idea of, for instance, making every structure in the United States environmentally feasible is probably something that is totally impossible to do,” Yarmuth told the Hill on Jan. 4. “I mean it would be wonderful if you could do that, but nobody could afford that. So, I’m not sure what purpose that would serve.”

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