Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a new version of his Medicare-for-all plan on Wednesday, putting a spotlight on the debate among 2020 Democratic presidential contenders over the future of America’s health-care system.
At an event on Capitol Hill, Sanders unveiled his latest version of a single-payer plan, which would replace the patchwork of public and private insurers with a government-run system that Sanders argues would ultimately save consumers money.
Sanders said he is seeking to replace a “dysfunctional” system based on “greed and profiteering” by health insurance companies.
“Together we are going to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America, our great country, being the only major nation on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right,” Sanders said. “This is a struggle for the heart and soul of who we are as American people.”
Sanders’s new bill is similar to past legislation he has introduced but now includes coverage for long-term-care services, benefits that further increase the cost.
Sanders introduced his plan inside a crowded room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, flanked by activists and medical industry professionals. They stood in front of a blue banner, framed by two U.S. flags, that bore the slogan, “Health care is a right.”
The event underscored how much headway Sanders has made among Democrats in pushing what was viewed as a fringe idea during his last presidential bid.
In a statement later Wednesday, Sanders suggested that if he is elected president and Democrats retake control of the Senate, there’s a realistic scenario for his plan to pass.
Sanders cited a provision in Senate rules that allows some legislation to be considered as part of the budget reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority of the chamber to advance rather than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
“I would remind everyone that the budget reconciliation process, with 51 votes, has been used time and time again to pass major pieces of legislation and that under our Constitution and the rules of the Senate, it is the vice president who determines what is and is not permissible under budget reconciliation,” Sanders said. “I can tell you that a vice president in a Bernie Sanders administration will determine that Medicare for All can pass through the Senate under reconciliation and is not in violation of the rules.”
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