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Following President Trump’s Comments, Dingell & Jayapal Urge Trump to Immediately Expand Medicare & Medicaid to Cover Uninsured Americans

Washington, April 3, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), the lead sponsors of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, today wrote to President Donald Trump requesting a virtual meeting to discuss proposals for immediately expanding health insurance coverage to uninsured Americans. The lawmakers’ letter follows comments made by the President during yesterday’s White House press briefing that signaled his openness to expanding Medicare or Medicaid to cover uninsured Americans, including those who have recently lost their employer-based coverage due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“As you pointed out in your comments, and as we have said before, it isn’t fair that so many Americans cannot afford to purchase health insurance and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Our broken for-profit health insurance system is not only failing to defend regular Americans from the coronavirus pandemic, it is making things even worse as they need to access testing or treatment,” wrote the lawmakers. “In this crisis, we must put our differences aside and come together in a bipartisan fashion to take bold, unprecedented action to fix our broken system and prevent more Americans from getting sick or dying. Immediately expanding Medicare and Medicaid is the fastest, most efficient and effective way to do that. We have specific proposals around this expansion that we are ready to discuss with you immediately.”

The full text of the letter is below and available here.

April 3, 2020

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump: 

As the lead sponsors of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, we were heartened to learn this week that you are open to expanding Medicare or Medicaid to cover uninsured Americans, including those who have recently lost their employer-based coverage due to the COVID-19 crisis. We would like to request an immediate virtual meeting with you to discuss moving forward with this initiative. Working together, we can quickly help millions of working people and families who are struggling to survive during this crisis.

As you pointed out in your comments, and as we have said before, it isn’t fair that so many Americans cannot afford to purchase health insurance and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Our broken for-profit health insurance system is not only failing to defend regular Americans from the coronavirus pandemic, it is making things even worse as they need to access testing or treatment. According to a recent Time report, one uninsured coronavirus victim faced a $34,000 bill simply for responsibly receiving testing and treatment in order to avoid infecting others. A CNBC report found that “those who are hospitalized with coronavirus can expect to pay anywhere from $42,486 to $74,310 if they are uninsured or if they receive care that’s deemed out-of-network by their insurance company.” 

With over 10 million Americans filing for unemployment, the number of people who will face exorbitant medical bills is likely to dramatically increase as the ranks of the uninsured grows exponentially. A new study from the Economic Policy Institute finds that "3.5 million workers were at high risk of losing their employer-provided health insurance in the past two weeks” alone, and just yesterday we learned that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the last week alone.

As the richest nation in the world, we must ensure that each and every American gets the coverage they need, especially during a public health crisis. 

In the past, you have talked about how, as president, you would ensure that everybody would be covered. You have repeatedly lauded other nations for their robust government health insurance programs that guarantee universal healthcare. We agree with you that not having insurance disadvantages American workers, especially lower-income workers, tremendously. As you said yesterday, “if you have it, you have a big advantage. And at a certain income level you do.”

While we have not agreed on a broad range of issues in the past, this is not the time for politics. In this crisis, we must put our differences aside and come together in a bipartisan fashion to take bold, unprecedented action to fix our broken system and prevent more Americans from getting sick or dying. Immediately expanding Medicare and Medicaid is the fastest, most efficient and effective way to do that. We have specific proposals around this expansion that we are ready to discuss with you immediately; and we will work with you, the House and the Senate to ensure that we expand coverage as we deal with this coronavirus pandemic.

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting with you as soon as possible to make this a reality.

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