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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced today (May 10) that he introduced legislation to provide health care for every American through a Medicare-for-all type single-payer system.
Representative Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) filed a companion bill in the House to provide better care for more patients at less cost by eliminating the middle-man role played by private insurance companies that rake off billions of dollars in profits.
The twin measures, both called the American Health Security Act of 2011, would provide federal guidelines and strong minimum standards for states to administer single-payer health care programs.
“The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its people,” Sanders said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “Meanwhile, we spend about twice as much per capita on health care with worse results than others that spend far less. It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all single-payer health coverage program.”
Sanders and McDermott were joined at the press conference by leaders of organizations supporting the measure, including Arlene Baker-Holt, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO; Jean Ross, co-president of the National Nurses United; and Greg Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
While making the case for a single-payer system nationwide, Sanders applauded the Vermont Legislature which earlier this month voted to put the state on the path toward a single-payer system. Vermont, Sanders said, could become a model for the nation.
Last year’s health reform law is projected to cover 32 million more Americans. Despite that important step forward, however, 23 million people living in the United States will remain uninsured by the end of this decade while health care costs continue to skyrocket. Some 60 million Americans, both insured and uninsured, have inadequate access to primary care due to a shortage of physicians and other like providers in their community.