Single-Payer Health Care

Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted single-payer health care advocates and joined them at a meeting he arranged Wednesday with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the lead architects of health care legislation the Senate will likely consider this summer.  Sanders has introduced the Senate’s only single-payer health care plan. 

“The major reason that our current health care system is so expensive has much to do with the role that private insurance companies play," Sandes said. "The function of a private health insurance company is not to provide health care; it is to deny health care.  Every dollar of premium that a health insurance company does not spend on health care needs is a dollar more in profits."

Sanders’ “American Health Security Act”, S. 703, introduced on March 25, 2009, provides every citizen with health care coverage and services through a state-administered, single-payer program.  This plan 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. 

Sanders is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).  That committee is working on parallel health care reform legislation to Chairman Baucus’ as-yet-unreleased bill.

Sanders arranged for the meeting with Chairman Baucus to assure that single-payer proponents were heard as the Senate moved closer to considering major health care legislation.  In attendance today were Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and senior lecturer at Harvard; Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee; Geri Jenkins, RN, co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee; Dr. Oliver Fein, president of Physicians for a National Health Program and associate dean at Weill Medical College of Cornell University; and Dr. David Himmelstein, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and associate professor medicine at Harvard Medical School.

To read the senator's full statement from the press conference, click here.