Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) has been a longtime advocate for single-payer health care. On January 23rd, Sanders held a 90-minute town hall meeting on the issue, which drew an online streaming audience of about 1.1 million people with several hundred more in attendance.
How would this change existing Medicare?
First, it would gradually include people under 65, dropping the age limit by 10 years every year until the fourth year when everyone would be covered. This plan would also cover more than what current Medicare covers, including dental and vision care. Deductibles, co-pays, and premiums would be eliminated under this plan as well; however, experts suggest this would encourage people to go to the doctor more often than they currently do and effectively increase spending.
Medicare for All Act of 2017
Sanders delivered the Medicare for All Act of 2017 to Congress in September and managed to garner 16 co-sponsors, including Senators Kamala Harris (D-Ca), Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Sanders made an attempt to pass a similar measure in 2013, but the bill was widely rejected by Congress, garnering no co-sponsors.
Despite support from a large part of the American public and a handful of Congressional members, the bill is considered dead-on-arrival. Instead of intending to pass the bill, Sanders is attempting to temper Congress’ opinion on the matter, making universal health care within a single-payer system a top priority for the day Democrats regain control.