Jul 16, 2018

Defining "Medicare for all"

Democrats discuss Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill last year. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s jump into the debate Democrats are going to be having for at least the next two years: What, exactly, constitutes “Medicare for All”?

Why it matters: Supporting some version of “Medicare for All” has become a litmus test for a lot of Democratic primaries in 2018, and will surely be one in 2020.

What they’re saying: Tim Higginbotham and Chris Middleman, organizers with the Democratic Socialists of America’s Medicare for All campaign, pushed back against the squishier definitions of the term in a Vox op-ed on Friday.

  • “We need a true single-payer system, not a patchwork … effectively abolishing the private health insurance industry altogether.”
  • That single program should cover everyone, should provide services like mental and dental health, and should be free at the point of service (no co-pays or deductibles), they said.

The other side: Try writing, for example, a health policy newsletter that treats “Medicare for All” and “single-payer” as synonyms, and you’ll hear from the Democrats who support a less sweeping program, like an optional Medicare buy-in.

  • Medicare, they accurately note, relies heavily on private insurance. Why should “Medicare for All” have to mean pure single-payer when that’s not what Medicare is today?

My thought bubble: Hardly anyone is actually talking about a literal expansion of the existing Medicare program, whether voluntary or compulsory.

  • Medicare today doesn't meet the definition DSA has laid out. Neither does Canada's single-payer system, for that matter. Medicare also doesn't cover things like maternity care, which more center-left proposals would change.
  • If this ever gets resolved, it will be during the 2020 primary at the earliest — not in 2018, when a raft of Democratic candidates across the center-left spectrum truly are benefitting from the term’s vague popularity.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 660,706 — Total deaths: 30,652 — Total recoveries: 139,304.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 121,478 — Total deaths: 2,026 — Total recoveries: 1,072.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Deaths surge in Italy and Spain

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has since Friday killed 889 more people in Italy and 832 others in Spain, which announced all non-essential workplaces would close for two weeks.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 on Saturday in the U.S., which leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 121,000, per John Hopkins. Governments around the globe are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus deaths top 2,000

Nurses in masks, goggles, gloves, and protective gowns at Penn State Health St. Joseph conduct drive-thru coronavirus testing in Bern Township, Pennsylvania on March 27. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

More than 2,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Saturday, per data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: Recorded deaths in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 two days ago. The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy.

Go deeper: Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut