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Alan Grayson’s Four-Page Medicare Buy-In Bill Introduced

As quixotic efforts go, I’ll take Alan Grayson’s HR 4789, a four page bill which “allows any American to buy into Medicare at cost.” You cannot possibly get more simple than that, it would not add one cent to the federal deficit, and it would offer people the option of purchasing Medicare (and its provider network) or purchasing an insurance product from a private company.

Howie Klein writes:

This evening Alan Grayson, Orlando’s spectacular and effective fighter for ordinary working families in a Congress that overwhelmingly caters to wealthy and powerful special interests, introduced the most real and straight forward healthcare reform bill that’s come up so far. Unless Obama makes the House leadership kill H.R. 4789– a distinct possibility– this should pass the House more easily than anything that’s been proposed for healthcare reform so far. And I bet it could even win cloture in the Senate! His bill offers the opportunity for everyone in the country to buy into Medicare. “Obviously,” said Grayson, “America wants and needs more competition in health coverage, and a public option offers that. But it’s just as important that we offer people not just another choice, but another kind of choice. A lot of people don’t want to be at the mercy of greedy insurance companies that will make money by denying them the care that they need to stay healthy, or to stay alive. We deserve to have a real alternative… The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’ It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair. This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote.”

I’m not as sanguine about its prospects, but I don’t expect HR 4789 to go away. This bill, like other public option or single payer bills, ought to be introduced year after year, with a movement built around them, and stands taken in primaries, and discharge petitions attempted. Grayson seems like a better candidate to actually accomplish this – under his leadership, an audit the Fed bill that Ron Paul had sitting on a shelf somewhere for two decades got well over 300 co-sponsors in the House.

I’m also thoroughly unsurprised that Grayson pitched the most readable, simplest, most intuitive health care proposal of this entire two-year debate.

UPDATE: And there’s already a companion website at

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David Dayen

David Dayen