Sanders urges Medicare for All to end ‘completely broken’ healthcare system
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a press conference in front of the US Capitol May 4 in Washington, DC
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For many Americans, a medical emergency can create a financial crisis due to the high cost of healthcare in the United States
This week Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., renews his push for a new approach – Medicare for All – that he touted as a presidential candidate.
“The current healthcare system in the United States is completely broken,” Sanders said Tuesday at an event on Capitol Hill.
“It’s completely dysfunctional and utterly cruel,” he said.
With the support of Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Debbie Dingell of Michigan, lawmakers plan to re-introduce a bill called the Medicare for All Act of 2023 in both the House and Senate on Wednesday.
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In the House of Representatives, the proposal will have 112 co-sponsors, more than ever when the bill was introduced, Jayapal noted, though there were fewer Democratic seats than the previous Congress.
Medicare for All would create a payer program that would allow a source to collect all health care fees and pay for all health care costs.
“It is long overdue that we end the international embarrassment that the United States is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to its entire population,” Sanders said. “Now is the time for a Medicare-for-All single-payer program.”
Some patients cannot currently afford the treatment
Research shows that many Americans are burdened with high healthcare costs.
Almost one in ten adults, or about 23 million people, has medical debt. Research by KFF found last year. About 11 million people owe more than $2,000 and 3 million people more than $10,000, the independent health policy research provider found.
Some families have filed for bankruptcy, Sanders noted, after serious illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease, left them with unsustainable hospital bills.
The inequalities tend to affect low-income, minority and immigrant communities, Nancy Hagans — who has worked as a critical care nurse in Brooklyn, New York, for over 35 years — said during Tuesday’s event on Capitol Hill.
During her career, Hagans said she saw patients not getting the care they needed because they didn’t have health insurance or because they couldn’t afford the high deductibles or co-payments. Others are being forced to choose between taking their medication or putting food on the table for their children, she said.
“Our current system discriminates against your ability to pay, what type of job you have, or whether you have a job at all,” said Hagans, who currently serves on the Council of Presidents of National Nurses United and president of the New York State Association of Nurses.
“Why don’t we have Medicare for All?”
Sanders has demanded comprehensive healthcare without networks, bonuses, deductibles, co-payments or surprise bills.
He has also called for Medicare coverage to be expanded to include areas such as dentistry, hearing, vision, mental health and substance abuse treatment, inpatient and outpatient services, and long-term home and community care.
Sanders also wants to limit the amount patients pay for prescription drugs.
A protester at the 2022 March for Medicare for All in Washington, DC
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Many people tend to ask, “Why don’t we have Medicare for everyone?” noted John Holahan, fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center.
But the answer isn’t that simple, he said.
“They really want a system where everyone is included and everything is free and providers get Medicare rates,” Holahan said. “Current Medicare looks very different than what they’re talking about.”
Getting the economy up and running could also be difficult, according to Holahan.
Medicare rates are lower than what private insurers pay. If these rates were applied across the board, there would be savings for both patients and employers. However, it would also lead to significant income losses for doctors and service providers and reduced revenues for hospitals.
And the tax increases that may be required to implement such a health care system could make it a non-starter politically, Holahan said.
Another alternative could be to create a public option that would allow workers to choose between state and private plans, he said. According to Holahan, the introduction of tariff controls for hospitals or prescription drugs would also be “great progress”.
https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/17/sanders-pushes-medicare-for-all-to-end-totally-broken-health-system.html Sanders urges Medicare for All to end ‘completely broken’ healthcare system