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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Democrats are increasingly embracing "Medicare for All." Thing is, though, they don't necessarily agree about what that means.

Why it matters: Democrats haven't had to reconcile these competing visions ahead of the midterm elections, when the sheer number of candidates running for different offices has allowed everyone to stick to their own definition of a broadly popular term.

But that will surely change once the 2020 primary gets started.

The options range from full-scale single-payer to a far more modest, optional expansion.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill would immediately establish a single source of health care coverage, for all services, with no cost-sharing. It's the most aggressive proposal out there, and is significantly more robust than the existing Medicare program, or even Canada's single-payer system.
  • The Center for American Progress' version wouldn't immediately move everyone into a new system. People could choose to opt into a new, beefed-up version of Medicare. But newborns would be enrolled automatically, so private insurance's days would likely be numbered.
  • There are several other versions of a Medicare buy-in. The most limited would only apply to individuals over a certain age. The next step would be all individuals. The step after that, as proposed by Sen. Chris Murphy, would also allow employers to buy into a beefed-up version of Medicare as their health care plan.

The details: How much each plan would cost will depend on how each one is structured. Broadly, the more people it covers and the more services it provides, the more it will cost.

  • Sanders' bill would be the most expensive on this list, though estimates place its total price tag roughly in line with what we're expected to spend under the status quo. It would require substantial tax increases to replace costs that are now borne through premiums and out-of-pocket spending.

What's next: Most of Democrats' leading 2020 prospects in the Senate have signed on to Sanders' bill, but I'd expect many of them to treat it as a jumping-off point or a notional embrace, and to continue coming up with their own, separate policy proposals.

Go deeper

Private colleges across America can't pay their bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Behind the scenes in colleges across the U.S., institutions are having trouble paying their bills.

Why it matters: There’s a reckoning coming in higher education — especially for smaller, private liberal arts schools — that’s been years in the making. In obvious ways, COVID accelerated some of the trends, but college finances have been hurting for a while.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
43 mins ago - Health

Special report: America's biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.

44 mins ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The next big social network: Nextdoor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nextdoor, the neighborhood social network, has seen explosive growth over the past two years as homebound users became more fixated on what was happening on a hyper-local level.

Why it matters: Such rapid growth comes with challenges. What was once a niche social network is now so popular that it's grappling with some of the same thorny problems plaguing Facebook and Twitter, such as content moderation.