Sanders, Jayapal Unveil Emergency Legislation to Provide Health Care for All During Pandemic

Burlington, April 10 — Amidst an unprecedented economic and public-health crisis, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) announced sweeping legislation today to guarantee health care for all Americans for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, authored by the two lawmakers, empowers Medicare to pay all of the costs of treatment for the uninsured, and cover all out-of-pocket costs for those with public or private insurance, for as long as this pandemic continues.

“During this unprecedented crisis, no one in America should delay seeking medical care because of the cost. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are only as safe as the least-insured among us,” said Sanders. “We have got to work together to make sure that anyone in America who is sick—regardless of their income or immigration status—can seek the medical treatment they need during this national emergency. With an estimated 35 million Americans in danger of losing their employer-provided health insurance over the coming weeks and months, this legislation is needed now more than ever.” 

“Our broken health care system is failing to protect millions of Americans from the coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to take bold action to prevent more Americans from getting sick or dying,” said Jayapal. “Everyone in America should have guaranteed access to health care, especially during national emergency.”

As the ranks of the 87 million uninsured or under-insured Americans swell, the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act would take effect immediately upon passage and make sure that through the duration of the crisis, no American would pay any out-of-pocket expenses for health care—including prescription drug coverage.

The legislation also bans surprise billing, empowers Medicare to purchase pharmaceuticals at the same prices as the VA, and prevents private insurance companies from increasing copayments and deductibles, or decreasing coverage, for the duration of the health care crisis.

Read the legislative text here. 

Read the bill summary here.