The Center for American Progress – “a think tank that is the closest thing to a Democratic government-in-exile,” according to Paul Waldman of The Washington Post – released a universal health care plan Thursday.
The document starts with a broad statement of principle – “Health care is a right: No American should be left to suffer without the health care they need” – before moving on to the nuts and bolts of how the proposed universal health care system would work in the U.S.
Here are 5 key features of the proposal, which CAP refers to as "Medicare Extra for All":
- The plan would be open to everyone, but no one would be forced to join. Workers with private insurance could stick with their existing plans, although employers could opt in and provide health insurance through the new system.
- Newborns would be automatically enrolled, resulting in steady movement toward a single system.
- Preventative care and generic drugs would be free. Prices for other services would be determined on a sliding scale, starting at zero and increasing with higher income.
- Medicaid and CHIP would be folded into the new plan.
- Premiums would be paid only by those earning more than 150 percent of the poverty line, with a cap at 10 percent of income.
One important thing missing from the plan: a cost estimate. But at this point, the politics of the proposal probably matter most. As Axios notes, the proposal suggests that the mainstream of the Democratic party is now firmly behind the idea of universal health care, in a way that goes beyond Obamacare. "It is in some ways 'repeal and replace,' but from the left rather than the right," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.