Bernie Sanders: Time is ripe for Medicare for all

Bernie Sanders – Sept 25, 2017
This piece originally appeared in USA Today

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare legislation that guarantees comprehensive health care to all Americans over 65 through a single-payer, federally funded health care system. This is an effective, popular program.

My Medicare for All Act of 2017, with 16 co-sponsors, improves and expands Medicare and, over a four-year transition period, provides health care to every man, woman and child in our country.

In doing that, the U.S. will finally join the ranks of every other major country on Earth in recognizing that health care is a right, not a privilege.

We now have the most wasteful, inefficient and bureaucratic health care system in the world. In fact, we are spending almost twice as much per capita as any other country, while our health care outcomes are often worse. Instead of providing quality care to all in a cost-effective way, our current system is designed to provide hundreds of billions in profits to insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and medical equipment suppliers.

Moving to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would eliminate insurance industry profits and reduce waste, saving up to $500 billion a year on administrative costs. Today, about 21 cents of every dollar spent on private health insurance goes to overhead and profit in an incredibly complicated system of hundreds of different plans, each with different deductibles, co-payments and premiums. In contrast, Medicare spends only 2% on administration.

Under Medicare for all, the American people would be able to go to any doctor or hospital they wanted. The major difference is that instead of writing out large checks to private insurance companies, they would be paying substantially less into a Medicare trust fund saving middle-class families thousands of dollars a year.

The truth is that the only reason we, among all major countries, do not have universal health care has everything to do with politics and greed.

Now is the time to tell members of Congress that their job is to protect the American people, not the insurance companies and the drug companies. Now is the time for Medicare for all.

This piece originally appeared in USA Today