There are now 47 million people who have no health insurance, in large part because health coverage has become unaffordable for many hard-working families. Some 22,000 American citizens needlessly die every year because they lack health insurance.
We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other country. The United States now spends $2.3 trillion a year, or 16 percent of the gross domestic product, on health care. That amounts to an unsustainable $7,600 for every man, woman, and child.
What do we get for all this spending? According to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks 37th in terms of health system performance and 72nd in overall population health. Moreover, a recent international survey found the U.S. is dead last in terms of patient satisfaction.
We need to have the courage to take on the insurance companies, drug companies, and other powerful and well-funded special interests which make billions of dollars off of human illness. Simply stated, we need to move toward a national health care program that guarantees health care to all as a right, not a privilege.
The Senate's Only Single-Payer Health Care Proposal
Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the American Health Security Act, S. 703, on March 25, 2009. This bill provides every citizen with health care coverage and services through a state-administered, single-payer program. It fully funds the community health center program, addresses the shortage of primary care medical and dental professions, and establishes federal boards for developing national policies and guidelines and developing minimum competence criteria, yet gives each state the ability and flexibility to carry out the programs. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jim McDermott.
State Pilot Program
Sanders has also introduced legislation that would authorize grants for states to create universal health care pilot programs that could become models for other states and the nation. "The quickest route toward a national health care program will be when individual states go forward and demonstrate that universal and non-profit health care works, and that it is the cost-effective and moral thing to do," said Sanders. Under this program, five states selected for the pilot program would win additional grants to carry out 5-year demonstration projects. The states would have to provide comprehensive health care benefits, including coverage for long-term care, diagnostic services, preventive care, prescription drugs, dental and vision services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment services.
More Info and Links
To read the senator's op-ed on health care, click here.
To read articles more about the progressive agenda for health care, click here.
To read the text of the senator's state-administered, single-payer health care legislation, click here.
To read more about the senators' state pilot program proposal, click here.
To read the Physicians for a National Health Program statement on the Sanders state-administered, single payer plan, click here.