The incoming chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), said Tuesday that he is open to holding hearings on “Medicare for all” next year.
“The first thing we’re going to try to do is to address the issue of pre-existing conditions,” Neal told reporters when asked about Medicare for all. “But I don’t see how we can’t evolve into a hearing on many of these other proposals and discussions. I think they deserve a conversation.”
The comments, while not a firm commitment, are some of the most encouraging toward Medicare for all supporters from a top House Democrat to date. Democratic leaders and key committee chairmen have so far not given support to Medicare for all, despite a push from the progressive wing of the party.
Neal said the details of a hearing are not yet clear, and there are also other health-care issues he wants to explore.
But he said of Medicare for all, “I’m not going to ignore it, that’s for sure.”
“I think we should hold a hearing on the ACA, I think we should have a hearing on the mandate, I think we should hold a hearing on pre-existing conditions,” Neal said.
“I think we ought to have a hearing on all of it,” he added.
Progressive House Democrats are pushing for a vote on Medicare for all after Democrats take back the House next year.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has not offered any commitment beyond saying earlier this year that Medicare for all would have to be “evaluated” and “it’s all on the table.”
Neal’s comments on Tuesday also go farther than those of Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the other key committee overseeing Medicare for all, the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pallone said last month that Medicare for all did not have the votes to pass so he would focus on the Affordable Care Act instead.
“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for all or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said last month.