Bernie Sanders is set to introduce a new version of his Medicare-for-all plan in the Senate Wednesday, and the bill will be co-sponsored by 15 other Democratic Senators, one-third of the party’s Senate Caucus.
Sanders’ bill would completely replace private insurance with an enhanced version of Medicare with few, if any, out-of-pocket expenses. The plan is ambitious and would likely require new taxes, but Sanders says that the cost would still be cheaper in the long run since people would not have to pay healthcare premiums.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Sanders said that the plan is “a rational alternative” to the limitations of the Affordable Care Act. Sanders introduced similar legislation in 2013 with no co-sponsors, so it’s a measure of Sanders’ influence within the Democratic Party. Further, the co-sponsors are a mix of 2020 contenders like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and those facing re-election campaigns in 2018.
However, Sanders hasn’t received support from Democratic leadership figures like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who said they’re more focused on protecting the Affordable Care Act and stabilizing the insurance markets.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Sanders paints the issue as one between people and corporations and less about party politics:
We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.
Sanders goes on to say that Medicare is an extremely popular and cost-effective program. That knowledge and the example of how Canada’s healthcare system works shows how the plan could be implemented in the U.S., according to Sanders.
Sanders faces an uphill battle for sure, but given the speed with which this plan has picked up mainstream Democratic support and the fact that it’s a program many Americans want, maybe this bill is where universal healthcare in America starts.