Speed Reads

health care crisis

Sanders goes after Biden's coronavirus coverage plan in op-ed: 'expensive and ineffective'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) thinks it's the perfect time to give Medicare-for-all a try, or at least Medicare for the uninsured.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many of them, that meant losing employer-based health care coverage as well. Some Democrats — namely former Vice President Joe Biden — have suggested the U.S. government cover COBRA payments so those who lost their insurance can keep it, but Sanders laid out a new route in a Tuesday Politico op-ed.

COBRA lets people who've lost their jobs keep health care coverage by paying for it out of pocket. House Democrats have discussed having the federal government cover those payments for newly-unemployed Americans, and Biden has called for the same. Sanders doesn't mention the former vice president in the op-ed, but he does offer an alternative to what Democrats have cooked up, as well as the White House's plan to funnel funding directly to hospitals to cover uninsured patients.

"Subsidizing COBRA, as they have suggested, would be both expensive and ineffective," Sanders writes for Politico. COBRA payments are notoriously pricey, health insurance companies would make money off the idea, and "it would still leave tens of millions uninsured or underinsured" and left to cover costly deductibles, Sanders writes. So Sanders suggests the government "empower Medicare to pay all of the health care costs for the uninsured, as well as all out-of-pocket expenses for those with existing public or private insurance" throughout the pandemic — a plan he's turned into the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act. Read Sanders' whole op-ed here.