Addressing a rally outside the Capitol to mark the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced that he will introduce legislation to provide Medicare-for-all health insurance.
“We need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer national health care program,” Sanders told a rally held by National Nurses United in a park near the Capitol.
Providing health insurance for everyone in the United States would result in better care, improved access and lower costs by eliminating the middle-man role played by insurance companies that now rake in billions of dollars in profits. Sanders’ bill, which he said he will soon introduce in the Senate, would set federal guidelines and strong minimum standards for states to administer single-payer health care programs.
“The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its people,” Sanders said. “Meanwhile, we spend far more per capita on health care with worse results than other countries. It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system.”
The Affordable Care Act, which Sanders supported when it was passed in 2010, has provided access to health insurance for millions more people but will still leave 30 million uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Under today’s health care system in the United States, thousands of people die each year because they delay seeking care they cannot afford. Health care eats up one-fifth of the U.S. economy, but the U.S. ranks 27th among major, developed nations on life expectancy and 31st on infant mortality. Moreover, some 60 million Americans have inadequate access to primary care due to a shortage of physicians and other health care providers in their community.
Sanders’ proposal also would rein in skyrocketing prices for prescription drugs. Americans pay pharmaceutical companies nearly twice for the exact same drugs manufactured by the exact same companies in other countries. “This is unacceptable,” Sanders said. “Until we put patients over profits, our system will not work for ordinary Americans.”
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is the sponsor of similar legislation in the House.
The event was part of a national day of action, in over 25 U.S. cities, that calls on policy makers to Protect, Improve, and Expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay, under a theme of “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.”
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