Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will convene health policy experts this week to discuss his longtime goal of establishing a single-payer healthcare system in the United States.
Sanders, a socialist who caucuses with Democrats, said Monday that the Senate Budget Committee will meet Thursday to discuss the “Medicare for All” healthcare proposal, convening healthcare experts and economists, including a researcher from the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The hearing will be titled “Medicare for All: Protecting Health, Saving Lives, Saving Money.”
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“Today in the United States, some 112 million Americans, about 44 percent of the adult population, are struggling to pay for the medical care they need,” Sanders said. “In the midst of a pandemic that has so far claimed nearly one million American lives, the crisis that is the American health care system has only worsened.”
The heated debate on the left regarding the Medicare for All proposal, favored by Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and liberals in the Democratic Party, cooled off after the 2020 Democratic primary concluded. Sanders, who at 80 years old is not ruling out another bid for the presidency in 2024, has campaigned twice for president on a Medicare for All platform, which would have the government fully finance the U.S. healthcare system, eliminating premiums, deductibles, and copayments.
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A Medicare for All-type proposal favored by Sanders would not come cheap. The hefty price tag has turned off centrists and further pushed away Republicans. The price changes slightly depending on which entity is estimating, but it remains in the trillions. The left-of-center Urban Institute, for example, says such a plan would require an additional $34 trillion in federal government spending over 10 years and that overall healthcare spending would climb to $59 trillion. Meanwhile, economist Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center, who will testify Thursday, estimated that the plan would increase government expenditures by about $32.6 trillion over 10 years but also reduce the country’s overall level of health expenditures by $2 trillion.