House Democrats Scuttle Plans for Corporate-Friendly, CAP-Approved Healthcare Bill

Anti-establishment Democrats continue to assert their dominance in the House of Representatives. Congress on Tuesday will conduct its first hearing to discuss "Medicare for All" legislation that would establish a single-payer healthcare system within two years.

The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D., Mich.), is similar to legislation proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)—and co-sponsored by every senator running in the Democratic primary—which envisions a slightly longer transition period of four years. It does not include details as to how the sweeping overhaul of the healthcare system would be funded.

The potential cost of the "Medicare for All" proposal, and the inevitable backlash from the health insurance industry, has raised concern among some Democrats, including party leaders and more moderate members, including some freshman elected in swing districts. "How are we going to pay for it?" Freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D., Ill.) said during an interview with CNN in February. "What happens with private insurance? What happens to all types of coverage?"

Accordingly, some Democrats had planned to reintroduce "Medicare for America" legislation on Tuesday. That plan, endorsed by the Center for American Progress, calls for a more incremental approach that would not eliminate the private insurance industry altogether, and would carry a more financially responsible price tag by comparison. Democratic presidential candidates, while speaking positively about more ambitious "Medicare for All" proposals, have also expressed varying degrees of openness to this approach—Beto O'Rourke in particular.

However, plans to put forward the more moderate "Medicare for America" bill were scuttled on Tuesday, allowing the "Medicare for All" debate to proceed unchallenged.

The debate, which will undoubtedly continue as the Democratic primary heats up, risks exacerbating the intraparty rift between establishment Democrats, joined by their corporate-funded allies at the Center for American Progress, and the ascendant faction of celebrity socialists who eschew convenient alliances with powerful corporate interests, no matter how "woke" they may be, and no matter what their constituents think. The establishment wing is already fretting about the possibility of Bernie Sanders winning the party's nomination, fueled by concerns from wealthy donors, party leaders, and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, who celebrated Sanders' recent decline in the polls with a Twitter dig at the candidate's extremely online activist following.