Can Bernie Sanders' "Medicare-for-all" plan withstand the coming scrutiny?

14 September, 2017, 01:20 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is reportedly in favor of expanding Medicare to all Americans

Sanders is attempting to address the call from almost a third of the Senate Democratic Caucus - who've been adamant about a single-payer healthcare system - by proposing the Medicare for All Bill.

Long-term care, which Sanders had included in the version he unveiled during his presidential campaign past year, will not be covered.

California Sen. Kamala Harris made the business-friendly case for single-payer.

But the issue holds danger for Democrats now that they are considering the legislative realities and not just pie-in-the-sky visions (similar to the problem, ironically, for Republicans who pushed elimination of the Affordable Care Act until it became a real possibility), writes the New York Times's Margot Sanger-Katz: "Leaders of liberal states saw support for the idea erode as they confronted those political realities". Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of MA and Cory Booker of New Jersey - rising party leaders and potential 2020 contenders - will be co-sponsoring the bill. John Barrasso said Wednesday.

The idea received greater support - 60 % - in an April poll by The Economist/YouGov that asked whether respondents favored "expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American".

Single-payer plans like the one Sanders is proposing would certainly increase coverage; however, it is unclear how it would affect costs.

During the first year, the Medicare for All Bill would add prescription drugs, dental, vision, and hearing aids to the program. The age of eligibility for Medicare would also be lowered from 65 to 55, and deductibles for Medicare Parts A, B and D would be eliminated. Over the next two years, Medicare enrollment would drop to 45 years, then 35 years old. By the fourth year, everyone would be eligible.

"Today, we begin the long and hard struggle to end the global disgrace of the United States, our great nation, being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all our people", Sanders said. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood's Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs said it was a "refreshing change to see a health care proposal coming out of Congress that explicitly takes women's health into consideration". "That's because the USA government allows over 30 percent of health care costs today to go to pay the insurance industry's administrative overhead", said AHF General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs Tom Myers. Health insurers would be prohibited from selling health insurance that duplicates benefits provided in the legislation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has long supported universal health care coverage
Sen. Bernie Sanders has long supported universal health care coverage

"I think the American people are sick and exhausted of filling out forms", Sanders said.

For months, public debate over the future of the USA health-care system has been focused on one theme: the inability of Washington Republicans to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act, a vow they made incessantly on the campaign trail.

Yet that support is vulnerable to attack, with messaging about cost and how much the plan would increase taxes particularly effective in knocking down that support level. The bill is seen as another long-shot effort to repeal the law.

As he described his legislation, Sanders focused on its simplicity, suggesting that Americans would be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant the end of wrangling with health-care companies.

"This is an especially gratifying moment for the tens of thousands of nurses across the USA who have dedicated years of effort to transform our health care system from an profiteering industry based on greed and suffering to patient need and healing", National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said in a statement. Every other major country on Earth has decided that health care is a right, and we've got to do the same. Sanders acknowledged the issue in an interview with Vox. He said he plans to create a national campaign to build support for its passage in future years.

"I am very excited about the support the bill is getting both across the country and right here in the U.S. Senate", enthused Sanders, flanked by several of his fellow lawmakers. He said Congress will pass such a plan "sooner than people believe". She called the plan "one of many paths we can take to expand coverage and lower health care costs".

Canada has had universal health care since 1968.

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