WASHINGTON – The debate over "Medicare for all" is heading to the Hill.
Democrats have scheduled the first-ever hearing on a plan to eliminate private health insurance in favor of a government-run program next Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
One thing Republicans and Democrats do agree on is that the American health care system is broken. But Republicans, and even some Democrats, contend that replacing what's broken with a government fix is a recipe for disaster.
Health care has become the central campaign issue of 2020 since Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan for a single payer system to replace private health insurance companies early this month.
"Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege," said Sanders, echoing the motto that has become a mantra among Democrats.
"The best way to go forward in my view is through a 'Medicare for all,' single payer program," Sanders said at a CNN town hall this week.
And he's not the only presidential candidate taking "Medicare for All" to the trail.
"We need to have 'Medicare for all'," that's just the bottom line, said California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris, speaking at the town hall, said, "Having a system that makes a difference in terms of who receives what based on your income is unconscionable, it is cruel, and in many situations that I have witnessed, inhumane."
But the vision of more affordable coverage that lowers the number of uninsured is meeting a political reality.
The 19th Democrat to enter the 2020 race came out against a single-payer system.
"If I'm elected, I'm not going to force you off your private healthcare plan," said Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, announcing his candidacy on ABC.
Moulton is a former Marine Corps officer who receives health care through the Veterans Health Administration.
"I think every American should have access to good affordable healthcare, but I made a commitment to continue getting my own healthcare at the VA when I was elected to Congress, that's single-payer, and I'll tell you it's not perfect," he said.
Bob Moffit of the Heritage Foundation says that plan is the closest thing in the United States to "Medicare for all" and "that is a very bad way to run a health care program."
The Veteran's Health Administration, says Moffit, is "positively scandalous," with "bureaucratic manipulation of waiting lists resulting in the delay and the denial of care."
Moffit contends that cutting private insurance companies out of the equation is a bad solution.
"The result would be something like American medical clinics being turned into the equivalent of Soviet grocery stores," he said.
President Trump insists a Republican plan will be ready for a vote after the 2020 election. Moffit says that's too little, too late, and that the President should articulate a vision of health care reform now.
Some estimates put the cost of a "Medicare for all" plan at anywhere from $25- to $35-Trillion over just 10 years. Under the plan, 180 million Americans would see their private health insurance replaced with a public plan.