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Medicare for All? The Debate Begins

The nation now has a new option to consider when it comes to covering the skyrocketing cost of health care: a new Medicare for All proposal introduced Wednesday, Sept. 13, by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Backed by at least 15 Democratic senators, the Sanders legislation would expand Medicare into a universal health insurance program, financing it through higher taxes.

"If we want to move away from a dysfunctional, wasteful, bureaucratic system into a rational

health care system that guarantees coverage to everyone in a cost-effective way, the only way to do it is Medicare for All,” said Sanders.

His plan would cover everything from emergency surgery to prescription drugs, mental health and eye care with no co-payments. Americans younger than 18 would obtain “universal Medicare cards,” while those not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased in over four years. The new system would replace employer provided plans, with employers paying higher taxes but no longer having to provide coverage for their workers.

Private insurers would cover elective treatments in a system similar to Australia’s, which President Trump once said is “much better” than what we have in the U.S. Providers would be reimbursed by the government, signing a yearly agreement with Medicare.

Republicans quickly dismissed Sanders’ bill, with Sens. Lindsay Graham (SC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Dean Heller (NV) and Ron Johnson (WI) introducing another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), replacing it with “a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care.”

“If you want a single-payer health-care system, this is your worst nightmare,” said Graham. “Bernie, this ends your dream of a single-payer health-care system for America.”

While there is no chancethe Republican-controlled Congress will pass Sanders' bill, the health care debate is sure to be front and center in the 2018 Congressional election campaign. Other Senate Democrats are proposing alternative plans for Medicare or Medicaid buy-ins, taking a more moderate approach.

It's clear the system is broken and Congressional Republicans and Trump are doing everything possible to scuttle the ACA (Obamacare). Supporters of Sanders’ plan cite a Kaiser Health News survey that says 57 percent of Americans support Medicare for All, a number that could change as the campaign debate moves forward.

Image above courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

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