By Healthcare-NOW! –
Sen. Bernie Sanders [I VT] introduced a revised version of the “American Health Security Act,” a national single-payer “Medicare-for-all” healthcare bill, calling for the right to healthcare for all. The Bill, designated as S 915 is an updated version of S 703, submitted in 2009, and joins Rep. Jim McDermott’s [D WA] companion bill in the House of Representatives, HR 1200.
The bills strengthen our movement for a just, equitable healthcare system at a time when attacks are intensifying on our most successful social insurance program, Medicare. Several national unions and the AFL CIO joined to endorse these bills. This endorsement builds on the hundreds of endorsements by central labor councils, state, national, and international unions supporting HR 676.
Some notable improvements have been made to S 915/HR 1200 in this most recent version, including:
- A more equitable tax structure putting the burden on the wealthy to pay fairly into a national healthcare system
- Provides for union/company benefit plans to be maintained if desired, but solely to provide extras other than the medically necessary care that is covered for everyone.
- Dedicated funding to ensure that transitional benefits would be available for insurance industry and administrative workers who may be displaced as a more efficient and streamlined healthcare system is adopted.
- Full funding for community health centers giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care.
- Addresses the critical shortage of nurses, primary care physicians and dentists with dedicated funding.
As with earlier versions of the American Health Security Act, this is not a direct companion bill to HR 676. For example, HR 676 builds on the existing structure of Medicare, which may permit an easier, quicker, and less expensive transition to universal single-payer. S 915/HR 1200 emphasizes state administration which, some activists believe, may facilitate coordination with the various state-level single payer movements and build on the effort in the states required to set up the exchanges under the insurance reform bill passed in 2010.
HR 676 eliminates the role of for-profit hospitals and care centers by calling for conversion to non-profit with a provision to compensate for-profit providers with financial losses incurred in the conversion. S 915/HR 1200 does not call for the conversion of providers to non-profit. Significant evidence shows that non-profit providers deliver higher quality care at less cost.
On the crucial question of eligibility, Healthcare-NOW! has always advocated for inclusive eligibility policies and will continue to demand that all legislative vehicles have strong language providing healthcare to everyone living and working in the United States. Leaving undocumented brothers and sisters out of our system is unfair, bad public health policy, and should be strongly opposed. We recognize the challenge for our movement to change the political dynamics that permits lawmakers to exclude certain residents from our healthcare system. Everybody in, nobody out!
We urge you to review this statement, and welcome S 915/HR 1200 as additional legislative vehicles with HR 676 in the 112th Congress. Organized support for HR 676 continues to bring in cosponsors (currently 60 in the 112th Congress) and endorsements nationwide. As always, please contact Healthcare-NOW! to help support these efforts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-453-1305.