By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON — Americans would get health coverage simply by showing a new government-issued card and would no longer owe out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, according to legislation Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday.
But the Vermont independent’s description of the legislation omitted specifics about how much it would cost and final decisions about how he would pay for it.
Sanders was releasing his bill on the same day Republican senators were rolling out details of a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.
In an interview, Sanders said Tuesday that his measure would likely be paid for in a “progressive way.” Aides said it would likely be financed by income-adjusted premiums people would pay the government, ranging from no premiums for the poorest Americans to high levies on the rich and corporations.
The measure has no chance of becoming law with President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress. But it embodies a push to universal coverage that eluded Obama’s 2010 law and is a tenet of the Democratic Party’s liberal, activist base.
“I think in a democracy, we should be doing what the American people want,” Sanders said, citing polls showing growing support for the concept.
His bill would expand Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, to cover all Americans. It would be phased in over four years, and people and businesses would no longer owe premiums to insurers.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party backs the bill, which would make health care less expensive and less complicated for many people and businesses. It would cover the 28 million Americans remaining uninsured despite Obama’s law.
But some Democrats fear Sanders is exposing them to a lose-lose choice.
Don’t support Sanders’ plan and Democrats risk alienating the party’s liberal, activist voters, volunteers and contributors. Back it and they’ll be accused by Republicans of backing a huge tax increase and government-run health care, and taking away employer-provided coverage for half the country that many people like.
At least 12 other Senate Democrats signed onto Sanders’ bill by late Tuesday, including four potential 2020 presidential contenders besides Sanders: Kamala Harris of California, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
To cover themselves, several Democrats are introducing their…