‘This is where the country has got to go’

Senator Bernie Sanders is rolling out his bill that would create a “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system in the US.

While Republicans continue to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, Mr Sanders is working to propel conversation forward about how healthcare in the US should be a right, not a privilege.

“Under this legislation, every family in America would receive comprehensive coverage, and middle-class families would save thousands of dollars a year by eliminating their private insurance costs as we move to a publicly funded program,” Mr Sanders, a possible candidate for the 2020 presidential election, wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times.

“This is where the country has got to go,” Mr Sanders told the Washington Post.

A major plank of Mr Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, single-payer healthcare – often referred to as “Medicare-for-all” – is a system in which the government, generally through taxes, covers basic healthcare costs for all residents regardless of income, occupation or health status.

“This is a pivotal moment in American history,” the Independent senator, who caucuses with the Democrats, wrote in the New York Times. “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?”

While defending Obamacare – which still remains under attack by Republicans – Mr Sanders declared earlier this year that the way forward in the long-term was a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer system.

Even though more Democrats appear willing to embrace a shift away from the private health insurance market and toward a government-run programme, other members of the party have conveyed concerns about the costs and details associated with establishing a single-payer system in the US.

During the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, who Mr Sanders challenged for the Democratic nomination, called the proposal “a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

An Urban Institute study of Mr Sanders’ single-payer proposal during the campaign said implementing the plan would increase federal expenditures by $32 trillion over 10 years.

According to a blueprint of…

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