WASHINGTON, April 10 – Sen. Bernie Sanders and 14 of his Democratic colleagues introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 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.).
The bill has been endorsed by 63 national organizations and unions including:350.org, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Amalgamated Transit Union, American Federation of Teachers, American Medical Student Association, American Sustainable Business Council, Americans for Democratic Action, Black Women's Health Imperative, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Business Initiative for Health Policy, Center for Popular Democracy, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Coalition of Labor Union Women, CREDO, DailyKos, Demand Progress, Democracy for America, Democratic Socialists of America, Demos, Faith in Healthcare, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Health Care Now, Health GAP (Global Access Project), Indivisible, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Just Care USA, Justice Democrats, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, League of United Latin American Citizens, MoveOn, MPower Change, National Center for Lesbian Rights,National Collaborative for Health Equity, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, National Education Association, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Immigration Law Center, National Nurses United, National Organization for Women, New York Nurses Association, Opioid Network, Our Revolution, People’s Action, People Demanding Action, Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Service Employees International Union, Social Security Works, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Sunrise Movement, Ultraviolet Action, United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers, United Mine Workers of America, Utility Workers Union of America, Women’s March, Inc., Working Hero and Working Families Party.
Sanders and his colleagues will introduce the bill at a press conference in Dirksen 562 today at 11 a.m. The event will be live streamed here. His prepared remarks can be found here.
For a copy of the Medicare for All Act, click here.
For a summary of the Medicare for All Act, click here.
For the summary by title of the Medicare for All Act, click here.
For a white paper on financing Medicare for All, click here.