Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, unveils his Medicare-for-All legislation at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.
The Vermont senator’s bill seeks to set up a single-payer model for health insurance, which would make health care both less complicated and less expensive for Americans. It would expand the Medicare health insurance program to cover more of the 28 million individuals who currently lack health insurance, even under the Affordable Care Act.
“The only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program,” Sanders’ website explains.
At least 12 other Senate Democrats have signed onto Sanders’ bill, including potential 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris, D-California, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, both progressives.
However, more moderate Democrats have expressed concern that the bill goes too far by risking a major tax increase and eliminating employer-provided coverage among other potentially polarizing factors of the bill.
While some Democrats are focused on improving the already existing health care law, Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, plan to introduce their own health care bills that would expand coverage, but on a lesser scale compared to Sanders’ legislation.
Meanwhile, Republicans have begun crafting their own answer to the high price of health insurance. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Dean Heller, R-Nevada; and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, introduced their plan after the GOP’s failed attempts at repealing and replacing Obamacare over the summer.
“We refuse to quit, we have been working on a bill that should’ve been our first approach to repealing Obamacare, not our last,” said Graham at a press conference introducing the plan Wednesday.
“If you want a single-payer system, this is your worst nightmare. Bernie, this ends your dream of a single-payer health care system for America,” he said.
Neither Sanders’ bill nor the GOP-sponsored bill, each representing opposing sides of the health care debate, is likely to pass in the Senate.
Medicare-for-All bill updates:
Sanders: bill will expand coverage to vision, hearing aids, dental
Sanders said that under his bill, Medicare coverage would expand to include dental care, hearing aids, and vision.
“As good as medicare is, we have heard your concerns,” Sanders said.
Sanders on the cost of health care:
Sanders began his remarks by noting that the United States spends 18 percent of its GDP on healthcare, or $10,000 per person.
“That is economically unsustainable for our country,” he said.
Sanders then called out insurance companies and drug manufacturing companies who profit from the U.S. health care system for their “greed.”
“Under medicare for all the average American family will be much better off financially than under the current system because you will no longer be writing checks to private insurance companies,” he said, noting that taxes may go up as a result.
Author of “Better Now” Danielle Martin speaks
Identifying the single-payer health care system’s popularity internationally, Sanders invited Danielle Martin, a Canadian physician and author of “Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians” to speak.
“Access to health care is a human right,” she said, noting the ease with which she accesses medical care in Canada.
Health care as “a moral issue” and “an economic issue”
“Health care for all is not only a moral issue, it is an economic issue,” Sanders said.
Sanders then invited CEO of MCS Industries Inc. Richard Master to speak to health care’s role in the U.S. economy.
“I encourage every member of Congress to leave their ideology at the door and to work with us,” he said.
Sanders invites doctors to speak
“We are finally making health care a basic human right,” said a physician and pediatrician from the George Washington University Medical Facilities.
Sanders also invited an oncologist up to the podium to speak who identified the financial challenges her cancer patients face throughout their treatment.
“I see the suffering and pain this causes every single day in the faces of my patients,” she said.
Sanders begins the press conference
Senator Sanders began by thanking the Democratic senators present at the press conference for their support of his single-payer health insurance bill proposal.