Sanders reintroduces Medicare for All legislation to guarantee health care

Senator Bernie Sanders

At a time when more than 1 million people in the United States have lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic – at least one-third of which have been linked to lack of health insurance – and 15 million Americans are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) reintroduced the Medicare for All Act, historic legislation that would save the American people $650 billion each year and guarantee health care as a fundamental human right to all people in the U.S. regardless of income or background.

“The American people understand, as I do, that health care is a human right, not a privilege,” said Sanders. “It is not acceptable to me, nor to the American people, that over 85 million people today are either uninsured or underinsured. As we speak, there are millions of people who would like to go to a doctor but cannot afford to do so. That is an outrage. In America, your health and your longevity should not be dependent on your bank account or your stock portfolio. After all the lives that we lost to this terrible pandemic, it is clearer now, perhaps more than it has ever been before, that we must act to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth to not guarantee health care to all.”

“Today, a large group of Senate and House Democrats introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2023. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans continued their push to rip health care away from millions of Americans,” said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. “These visions couldn’t be more different. Medicare for All’s supporters envision a future where Medicare is improved to include dental, hearing, vision and long-term care, and then expanded to cover everyone in America. A future without delays or denials, without copays or deductibles. A future where everyone gets the care they need.”

“Meanwhile, Republicans want to make our current profit-driven health care system even worse. They want to gut Medicare and Medicaid, so that health care is a commodity reserved for the wealthy. If you are rich, you get the best care in the world. If you are poor, you die,” said Lawson. “The best way for Democrats to stop that from happening is to go on offense with full-fledged support for Medicare for All. Social Security Works is proud to endorse the Medicare for All Act of 2023.”

“We live in a country where millions of people ration lifesaving medication or skip necessary trips to the doctor because of cost,” said Jayapal. “Sadly, the number of people struggling to afford care continues to skyrocket as millions of people lose their current health insurance as pandemic-era programs end. Breaking a bone or getting sick shouldn’t be a reason that people in the richest country in the world go broke. There is a solution to this health crisis — a popular one that guarantees health care to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations. That solution is Medicare for All — everyone in, nobody out. I’m so proud to fight for this legislation to finally ensure that all people can get the care they need and the care they deserve.”

“Every American has the right to health care, period. If you’re sick, you should be able to go to the doctor without being worried about the cost of treatment or prescription medicine. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens access to health care,” said Dingell. “The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create the flaws in our health care system, but it brought to light many of the shortcomings that have caused unnecessary and preventable hardship for countless American families for decades. We’ve been fighting this fight since the 1940s, when my father-in-law helped author the first universal health care bill. It’s time to get this done.”

“Astronomical healthcare costs and lack of access continue to drive individuals, families, and businesses past their breaking point while insurance companies continue to soak up billions of healthcare dollars as millions of children’s basic needs go unmet,” said Lisa McCormick, a progressive New Jersey Democrat who has been a leading voice in the state for universal health care. “Medicare has provided guaranteed health care for millions of seniors for more than 51 years. It’s time we have a Medicare for all, single-payer healthcare system that would end health disparities, effectively control costs, and assure that everyone has equal access to an excellent standard of care.”

“Enacting Medicare for All would save $650 billion and 68,000 lives per year,” said McCormick. “Instead of trying to turn welfare recipients into slave labor, fiscal conservatives in Congress should embrace universal health care.”

“Health care should be a right for all, not a luxury for some,” said Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “In the United States of America, millions of Americans go to sleep at night worried about a procedure they can’t access or a treatment their family can’t afford. Our status quo is unacceptable. Regardless of age, income, or zip code, access to quality, timely medical care should be guaranteed for all who need it. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this landmark legislation.”

Today in the U.S., 68,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford the health care they desperately need, millions more suffer unnecessarily because of delayed treatment, and more than 85 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured because of high deductibles and premiums.

In addition, healthcare spending in the U.S. constitutes over 18 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Yet health outcomes, life expectancy, and infant mortality rates in the U.S. remain much worse than in many other major countries. The U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of almost any other major country on Earth.

While estimates show 44 percent of the adult population, some 112 million Americans, are struggling to pay for the medical care they need, the seven major health insurance companies in America made over $69 billion in profits last year – up 287 percent since 2012. As millions of American families face bankruptcy and financial ruin because of the outrageously high cost of healthcare, the CEOs of 300 major healthcare companies collectively made $4.5 billion in total compensation in 2021.

While one out of four Americans cannot afford the life-saving medicine their doctors prescribe, last year ten of the top pharmaceutical companies in the United States made over $112 billion in profits, and the top 50 executives in these companies made a combined $1.5 billion in total compensation.

Implemented over four years, the Medicare for All Act would provide comprehensive health care coverage to all with no out-of-pocket expenses, insurance premiums, deductibles, or co-payments.

This includes coverage for primary care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, mental health, substance use disorder, long-term services and supports, reproductive health care, and more.

The legislation would create a more streamlined and cost-effective system, allow patients not to worry if their doctor is “in-network,” and substantially reduce the cost of prescription drugs by allowing the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare for All would save the American people and the entire healthcare system $650 billion each year.

A study by Yale epidemiologists, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, estimates that Medicare for All would save some 68,000 lives per year simply by guaranteeing health care to all as a right.

A study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare-for-all system would save a family with an income of less than $185,000 about $3,000 a year, on average.

In 2020, 69 percent of the American people supported providing Medicare to every American.

Nearly 200 national, state, and local organizations endorsed the Medicare For All legislation, including: National Nurses United, American Medical Student Association, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, National Organization of Women, SEIU, AFA – CWA, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE), United Mine Workers of America, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, Center for Popular Democracy, and National Domestic Workers Alliance.

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