What Do You Want to Know About Medicare-for-All?

Democrats keep touting the policy. We’ll help you understand what it actually means.

Bill Clark//CQ Roll Call

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As the Democratic presidential hopefuls descend on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to begin stumping for the 2020 nomination, there’s one policy idea that has become increasingly central to their early campaign promises: Medicare-for-all. 

“You can provide health care to everybody in a variety of ways, that’s true,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime proponent of single-payer health care, said last week in South Carolina. “To my mind, the most cost-effective way is through expanding Medicare.” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and others have also attached their names to the idea. “We need to have Medicare-for-all, that’s just the bottom line,” Harris said at an Iowa town hall earlier this year, not shying away from the implication that it would eliminate private insurance companies.

Creating some sort of single-payer health care system for the US isn’t a new idea, with various proposals dating back to the Truman administration. But many Democrats shied away from the proposal in recent presidential campaigns. In 2016, Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff regularly attacked Sanders’ stance on Medicare-for-All, with Clinton terming it a “risky plan” when she campaigned in Iowa. Back when he was running in 2008, Barack Obama would always say that single-payer might be better in theory, but that it was more practical to build improve the health system already in place. “A lot of people work for insurance companies, a lot of people work for HMOs. You’ve got a whole system of institutions that have been set up,” he said. “People don’t have time to wait.”

Things have changed rapidly since the last presidential campaign, with most of the 2020 contenders signaling their support for some expansion of universal health care. But while Medicare-for-All has picked up steam among Democrats over the past two years, there are still a lot of details to be hashed out about what that phrase exactly entails. What sort of benefits a plan might cover? How quickly would it be rolled out? Would people just be given the option to opt-into Medicare, or would they be automatically enrolled while all private insurance is made illegal? How have other countries implemented single-payer health care?

We want to help you understand the issue: What questions do you have about Medicare-for-All and how it would work? Let us know in the form below, send an email to talk@motherjones.com, or leave us a voicemail at (510) 519-MOJO. We’ll compile some of the best queries, then ask you to vote for one. Our reporters will answer the winning question in a follow-up story.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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