Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill would fund primary health care by curbing waste and fraud

By: Bob Kinzel; Vermont Public

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s optimistic the Senate will support his new bill addressing the primary care shortage facing the country.

Sanders says his top priority as chairman of the Senate health committee is to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care — and he says this bill would help.

The plan would provide community health centers across the country with an additional $6 billion. In Vermont there are 12 centers and roughly 25% of all people get their primary care at one of these facilities.

It also includes several billion dollars to train more primary care doctors, nurses and dentists to serve in rural parts of the country.

Sanders says investing in primary care is better for the patient and is cost effective.

“Because primary heath care saves money,” Sanders said. “When people can get to a doctor when they need to, they don’t end up in the hospital. When they go to a doctor rather than the emergency room, they save money. So it’s a very important bill and I hope we get it passed as soon as possible.”

Sanders wants to pay for the bill by eliminating waste and fraud in the health care system. While some Republicans on the panel support this approach, others have expressed doubts that this will raise enough money.

The full Senate is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks.