Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has reintroduced the Medicare for All Act, a bill that would eliminate private health insurance in exchange for a government-funded system.
Sanders, a socialist who caucuses with Democrats, resurrected the plan, which has in the past been the source of immense conflict within the party. Sanders's bill would eliminate deductibles, copays, and plan premiums while giving everyone health coverage and massively increasing federal spending.
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“Frankly, I am tired of talking to doctors who tell me about the patients who have died because they were uninsured or underinsured and walked into their offices too late for untreatable conditions,” Sanders said Thursday.
Sanders’s sweeping bill would also include dental and vision care as well as hearing aids, which are not currently covered by traditional Medicare or the government healthcare program for seniors. The legislation would also guarantee coverage of prescription drugs as well as home- and community-based care.
The plan would be phased in gradually over a four-year period. In the first year of implementation, benefits would expand to include hearing, vision, and dental coverage, and the Medicare eligibility age would be lowered by 10 years to 55. The eligibility age would be lowered further to 45 in the second year and to 35 in the third. All the while, children under 18 would be covered. By the fourth year, everyone would be covered under the system.
“Would a Medicare for All healthcare system be expensive? The answer is yes. But while providing comprehensive healthcare for all, it would be significantly less expensive than our current dysfunctional system,” Sanders said.
Sanders has run for the presidency twice on a Medicare for All platform, which lost out when pitted against President Joe Biden’s pledge to improve the existing healthcare law, Obamacare. The healthcare industry has also railed against the single-payer plan proposal, spending millions on lobbying to defeat the bill in Congress and on TV spots to sway voters.
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The price of Sanders’s proposal changes slightly depending on which nongovernment entity is estimated, but it remains in the trillions. For example, the left-of-center Urban Institute says such a plan would require an additional $34 trillion in federal government spending over the next decade and that overall healthcare spending would climb to $59 trillion. Meanwhile, economist Charles Blahous of the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center estimates that the legislation would add somewhere between $32.6 trillion to $38.8 trillion in new federal budget costs over the first 10 years.