Sept. 13 (UPI) — Sen. Bernie Sanders announced legislation Wednesday that offers healthcare to all Americans — a bill that has more, but not total, Democratic support.
Sanders, I-Vt., has called his bill “Medicare For All” and will try to attract more backing on Capitol Hill for this effort to get it passed than he did four years ago. The bill advocates a true single-payer healthcare system, similar to that in Britain.
“Now is the time for Congress to stand with the people and take on the special interests that dominate health care,” Sanders said Wednesday in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “Now is the time to extend Medicare to everyone.”
The former Democratic presidential candidate’s new effort has so for received support from liberal party members, but more moderate lawmakers aren’t sold on the proposal.
Sanders’ effort comes as Republicans in Congress continue to aim for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act — a prospect that has some Democrats hesitant to back the Vermont senator’s plan.
“I think the risk is that we get distracted,” Sen Chris Murphy, D-Ct., said. “September’s not done. They can still ram through a repeal bill.”
The last time Sanders pitched a single-payer healthcare program, in 2013, he didn’t attract even one co-sponsor. Now, though, some of the most prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill are behind the idea — including some who may challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
“This week will be seen as a pivotal moment, when the history books are written, on ‘Medicare for all,’ ” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said.
It remains to be seen how far Sanders’ proposal goes in the Republican-controlled Congress.
“This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?” Sanders asked in the Times.
“We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.”