Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders formally introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2017 today. Surrounded by Senate cosponsors and advocates, he outlined the plan at a press conference in Washington.
In introducing his Medicare for All legislation, Sanders said he is excited to have 16 co-sponsors and dozens of grassroots organizations already on board. “Today all of us stand before you and proudly proclaim our belief that health care in America must be a right, not a privilege.”
Vermont’s independent senator brought individuals to the podium to illustrate why they believe a single-payer system is needed. California oncology nurse Melissa Johnson-Camacho talked about patients who can’t afford treatment. “Let’s put an end to this immoral system that’s putting profits before patients’ needs. The only way that we are going to do this is with Medicare for All.”
Sanders noted that countries around the globe are providing cost-effective quality health care to their citizens. Toronto physician Dr. Danielle Martin says medical bills are an unimaginable concept to Canadians. “Canadians have a longer life expectancy. We spend just under $5,000 per capita in Canada to cover everyone. You spend nearly $10,000 per capita and yet tens of millions of people are uninsured. But most importantly when my patients are sick I do not need to ask if they have insurance or if they can afford to pay for my services.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is a co-sponsor of Medicare for All. “I love my northern neighbor but it is embarrassing to me to have a Canadian stand here in the Capital of the United States of America and talk about a system that takes care of their children better than we take care of our children.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: “One part of the bill that I worked with my colleagues to put in was the ability for every American to buy into a not-for-profit public option as part of a four year transition to get to single payer in this country.”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren: “We will not back down in our protection of the Affordable Care Act. We will defend it at every turn. But we will go further and we will say that in this country everyone, everyone, gets a right to basic health care. That’s what Medicare for All is all about.”
All of the Senate supporters who spoke were Democrats. Sanders cautioned that passage of the bill will not be easy and chastised Republicans. “You the Republican party have shown the American people what you stand for when you voted for legislation that would throw up to 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they have and at the same time give huge tax breaks to the rich and large corporations. You the Republican Party have no credibility on the issue of health care.”
Supporters of the bill in Vermont include Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Rights and Democracy, Vermont Health Care for All and Vermont-NEA. Senate Republicans introduced a competing bill that South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham called the “best and only" chance to repeal and replace Obamacare.