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Coronavirus: How best to guarantee everyone access to care

Written by Diane Archer

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, members of Congress are proposing all sorts of ways to help people get health care. One Democratic proposal would be a handout to the health insurance industry; it would cover insurance premiums for ex-workers but require them to pay high deductibles and coinsurance. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal have a cost-effective proposal that would guarantee everyone 100 percent coverage and easy access to health care.

The Sanders-Jayapal bill, the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, would have the federal government pay through Medicare all costs for COVID-19 care that are not covered through their insurance. And, for anyone without insurance, the federal government would pay for the full cost of their health care. No one would have to pay the deductible or coinsurance in order to get needed care. No one would fall into medical debt if they sought care. And, no one would go without health care because they could not afford it.

From the perspective of the federal government, the Sanders-Jayapal solution would be cost-effective. The federal government would only pay for services people received. It would not pay the cost of people’s insurance, which would require it to pay even for people not getting care. Moreover, it would pay doctors and hospitals Medicare rates which are lower than private insurance rates.

The Sanders-Jayapal bill has the added advantage of creating a single real-time electronic billing record for all Covid-19 care. The data would help to track the virus as it moves around the country and provide guidance as to where resources need to be deployed.

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