DNC Chair: ‘If I Were King for the Day,’ It Would Be ‘Medicare for All’

By Susan Jones | May 25, 2017 | 8:40 AM EDT

DNC Chairman Tom Perez endorses Medicare for all on "Late Night" with Seth Meyers on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (Screen grab for NBC)

(CNSNews.com) – A “Medicare for all” system was almost enacted in 2009, Democrat National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told NBC’s “Late Night” with Seth Meyers on Wednesday.

“I would love, if I were king for the day, to do something akin to Medicare for all. Because Medicare has been a very good program. And it's helped a lot of people.”

(Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Thursday also endorsed "a Medicare-type program" as the public option for people who don't get insurance through their employer.)

Perez told Meyers on Wednesday that he and other Democrats, including President Obama, wanted to move to a Medicare for all model in 2009, but they were one vote short.

And so they went with the Affordable Care Act: “And it’s been a lifesaver for so many people. And so right now, you know, while we fight for something even better, the reality right now is we have to make the case and we are making the case,” Perez said. 

“And that's why Republicans don't show up to their own town hall meetings. Because they know that this (House-passed) bill is an unmitigated catastrophe.”

Perez called the House-passed health care bill “a dumpster fire.”

He spoke after the Congressional Budget Office reported that the bill would produce an additional 23 million people without insurance by 2026. (As CNSNews.com reported, the Republican bill also would cut the deficit by $119,000,000,000 over the next ten years, but that is not a priority for Democrats like Perez who want to expand entitlement programs.)

“How do you get this message out to voters that are not Democratic voters that this is a health care plan that is not doing them any favors?” Meyers asked Perez.

“Well let’s be honest,” said Perez. “This bill is an unmitigated disaster. In order to provide $600 billion of tax relief to the wealthy, not only are 23 million people going to lose their coverage, but millions of other folks, if you have a pre-existing condition-- I met someone today who said, I'm diabetic and I'm scared to death, Tom. Ah, you're out of luck, potentially and probably. 

"If you have substance abuse or if you're someone thinking about having a kid, they can -- health insurance companies under this bill can say, nope, that's not covered. The opioid epidemic. You know, it's touched so many corners of America, Seth. And folks are going to lose coverage for those critical services. This is a dumpster fire,” Perez said.

A bill establishing a “Medicare for All” program, introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), now has 112 co-sponsors.

According to the summary, the bill would proved “free health care” to all  individuals living in the United States and U.S. territories. Free health care includes “all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.”

The program would be funded from existing sources of government revenues for health care; by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners; by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income; by instituting a tax on unearned income (investments); and by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions.

Medicare is the second-largest federal program, providing taxpayer-subsidized medical insurance for the growing population of people 65 and older and for certain disabled people (an estimated 58 million people in FY 2017).

Total Medicare expenditures were $648 billion in FY 2015, and they are projected to rise to $709 billion in FY 2017.

Even without expanding Medicare to all Americans, program spending will amount to 3.1 percent of GDP in the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline for 2017 and then increase each year, growing to 4.2 percent of GDP ($1.2 trillion) in 2027.

CBO expects Medicare spending (minus offsetting premiums paid by enrollees) to account for more than three-quarters of the increase in spending for major health care programs over the next 30 years.

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