In an effort to redefine America’s health care debate, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently unveiled a proposal to expand Medicare coverage to all through a single-payer health care system.
Although dubbed “Medicare for All,” this proposed legislation would greatly add to the benefits covered by today’s Medicare system. The bill would cover all non-cosmetic health care costs including dental and vision without imposing premiums, deductibles or copays on patients. If enacted as written, the program would be phased in to cover all Americans over a period of four years while immediately providing coverage for those ages 55 and older and 18 and younger.
The legislation proposes multiple options for the funding of this program: raising income taxes on America’s highest earners, closing a litany of tax loopholes and deductions, raising the Estate Tax, a payroll tax on employers, and other taxes on capital gains and financial institutions.
Although it is a virtual certainty that Medicare for All will not pass through a Republican-led Senate, the single-payer health care debate is sure to be a heated topic heading into the 2018 primaries and midterm elections, and the subsequent 2020 general election.
Senate co-sponsors for this bill include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) , Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The effort led by Sanders is paired with similar legislation proposed earlier this year in the U. S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), H.R. 676, which has been cosponsored by the majority of the House Democratic caucus.