Sen. Bernie Sanders and 14 of his Democratic colleagues introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 on Wednesday to guarantee health care to every American as a right, not a privilege.
The United States spends far more per capita on health care than any other nation; however, 34 million Americans do not have health insurance, thousands of people die each year because they cannot afford medical care, almost one in three adults with insurance have been unable to afford the care they need and nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency.
Sanders’ legislation fundamentally transforms the country’s dysfunctional health care system by eliminating profit-driven health insurance corporations and instead covering every resident through an improved Medicare plan at far lower cost to working families and the nation as a whole.
“In my view, the current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with health care. It’s all about greed and profiteering. It is about whether we maintain a dysfunctional system which allows the top five health insurance companies to make over $20 billion in profits last year,” Sanders said. “The American people are increasingly clear. They want a health care system which guarantees health care to all Americans as a right. They want a healthcare system which will lower healthcare costs and save them money. They want a health care system which will guarantee them freedom of choice as to which doctor or hospital they can go to. They want a health care system which will substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs. They want Medicare for seniors which will finally cover dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses. In other words, they want Medicare for All, and that’s what we will deliver to them.”
The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would ensure that Americans could go to the doctor of their choice and get the care they need, when they need it, without going into debt. It would significantly lower the price of prescription drugs by empowering the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical corporations. And it would expand coverage to include home and community based long-term care services, ensuring people with disabilities can receive the care they need to stay in their homes and remain part of their communities.
Under this bill, Americans will benefit from the freedom and security that comes with finally separating health insurance from employment. As is the case in every other major country, employers would be free to focus on running their businesses rather than spending time, energy and money trying to provide health insurance to their employees.
Studies from the Rand Corporation and even the conservative Mercatus Center have found that a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would save the American people money by reducing rising health care spending and significantly lowering administrative costs. In addition to the legislation, Sanders released a paper outlining several options for funding the Universal Medicare Program.
Sanders introduced the bill along with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).