It was a big day on Capitol Hill for Sen. Bernie Sanders and the debate over health care policy in the United States. Surrounded by a dozen of his Democratic colleagues, nurses, doctors and patient advocates, the Vermont introduced the latest version of his health care bill Wednesday, a proposal he refers to as “Medicare-for-all.”
“Today, all of us stand before you and proudly proclaim our belief that healthcare in America must be a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ bill, based on an idea central to his 2016 presidential bid, would open up the current Medicare insurance program to all American citizens and residents. The federal government would pay the cost of insurance, premiums, deductibles and most co-pays, effectively eliminating the majority of out-of-pocket medical costs for Americans. Like with the current Medicare system, patients would still primarily receive medical services at private institutions. Matt Fielder, a health care policy expert at the Brookings Institute describes the concept this way during an interview with ABC News, “Single payer is about who pays the bills not who delivers the care.”
Sanders’ bill does not attempt to answer the question of financing, how the government would pay for the significant expenses his proposal would require. While the plan has not received an official score from the Congressional Budget Office, experts have estimated the proposal could cost the government approximately $3 trillion a year.
“While depending on your income your taxes may go up to pay for this publicly funded program that expense will be more than offset by the money you are elimination of private insurance costs,” Sanders continued during his fiery speech on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
He said U.S. health care is in a “crisis” and that special interest groups have contributed to rising costs.
“The crisis is a political crisis that speaks to the incredible power of the insurance companies, the drug companies and all those who make a billions of dollars off of the current system,” Sanders said. “Over the years these entities have done everything they can do to prevent us from having lower drug prices and universal health care.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the bill’s proposals: