Sanders, Jayapal, Dingell more than 120 colleagues in House and Senate reintroduce Medicare for All

"The American people understand, as I do, that health care is a human right, not a privilege."

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SOURCECommon Dreams

At a time when more than 1 million people in the United States have lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic—at least one third of which have been linked to lack of health insurance—and 15 million Americans are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) today came together with 14 of their colleagues in the Senate and more than 110 in the House of Representatives to reintroduce the Medicare for All Act, historic legislation that would guarantee health care as a fundamental human right to all people in the U.S. regardless of income or background.

Sanders, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Jayapal are joined on the 2023 legislation by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“The American people understand, as I do, that health care is a human right, not a privilege,” said Sanders. “It is not acceptable to me, nor to the American people, that over 85 million people today are either uninsured or underinsured. As we speak, there are millions of people who would like to go to a doctor but cannot afford to do so. That is an outrage. In America, your health and your longevity should not be dependent on your bank account or your stock portfolio. After all the lives that we lost to this terrible pandemic, it is clearer now, perhaps more than it has ever been before, that we must act to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth to not guarantee health care to all.”

“We live in a country where millions of people ration lifesaving medication or skip necessary trips to the doctor because of cost,” said Jayapal. “Sadly, the number of people struggling to afford care continues to skyrocket as millions of people lose their current health insurance as pandemic-era programs end. Breaking a bone or getting sick shouldn’t be a reason that people in the richest country in the world go broke. There is a solution to this health crisis — a popular one that guarantees health care to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations. That solution is Medicare for All — everyone in, nobody out. I’m so proud to fight for this legislation to finally ensure that all people can get the care they need and the care they deserve.”

“Every American has the right to health care, period. If you’re sick, you should be able to go to the doctor without being worried about the cost of treatment or prescription medicine. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens access to health care,” said Dingell. “The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create the flaws in our health care system, but it brought to light many of the shortcomings that have caused unnecessary and preventable hardship for countless American families for decades. We’ve been fighting this fight since the 1940s, when my father-in-law helped author the first universal health care bill. It’s time to get this done.”

“Health care should be a right for all, not a luxury for some,” said Blumenthal. “In the United States of America, millions of Americans go to sleep at night worried about a procedure they can’t access or a treatment their family can’t afford. Our status quo is unacceptable. Regardless of age, income, or zip-code, access to quality, timely medical care should be guaranteed for all who need it. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this landmark legislation.”

“Despite the progress we’ve made in the past decade, millions of Americans still struggle to afford the quality health care they deserve,” said Booker. “Health care is a human right, and it is unacceptable that the wealthiest nation on the planet lags behind other countries in guaranteeing access to quality and affordable care for all its citizens. It’s time to put an end to the medical bankruptcies and exorbitant health care costs that burden families across the nation and work toward Medicare for All. I am proud to join in reintroducing this bill that will build a health care system that ensures that no one is left behind.”

“The American health care system leaves millions of individuals without coverage and it needs fundamental change. In the richest country in history, your health should not be determined by your income or zip code,” said Gillibrand. “I am proud to join my colleagues in the fight for Medicare for All, which would guarantee high-quality health care for every American and enshrine into law that health care is a right, not a privilege.”

“New Mexicans should never have to choose between putting food on their table and accessing health care,” said Heinrich. “That’s why I am proud to cosponsor the Medicare for All Act to expand health care coverage and provide access to hospital services, emergency services, prescription drugs, oral health, vision, and audiology services to all Americans.”

“Everyone should be able to get the health care they need, regardless of their income or insurance status,” said Hirono. “As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, adopting Medicare for All is an important thing we can do to help expand access to comprehensive health care for all communities. I am proud to support this bill and other legislation to help people across the country access quality, affordable health care.”

“Health care should be a right for every single American, not a privilege reserved for the healthy and the wealthy,” said Merkley. “Our current health care system is incredibly complex, fragmented, and expensive, and Americans could have so much more peace of mind if we had a simple, seamless system where, solely by virtue of living in America, you know that you will get the care you need. It’s time to simplify health care and lower patients’ costs, and embrace Medicare for All.”

“Health care is a basic human right—no one should ever go broke because of a medical bill or have to ration life-saving medications to make ends meet,” said Warren. “Medicare for All works to guarantee that every American will be able to afford and access the health care that every person deserves.”

“Medicare for All will help every Vermonter access essential health care, regardless of means. That’s worth fighting for, and I’m proud to join Sen Sanders to reintroduce this essential and lifesaving legislation,” said Welch. “No person should ever have to worry that they can’t afford the medical care they need — period.”

Today in the U.S., 68,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford the health care they desperately need, millions more suffer unnecessarily because of delayed treatment, and more than 85 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured because of high deductibles and premiums. In addition, health care spending in the U.S. constitutes over 18 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Yet health outcomes, life expectancy, and infant mortality rates in the U.S. remain much worse than many other major countries. The U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of almost any other major country on earth.

While estimates show 44 percent of the adult population, some 112 million Americans, are struggling to pay for the medical care they need, the seven major health insurance companies in America made over $69 billion in profits last year—up 287 percent since 2012. As millions of American families face bankruptcy and financial ruin because of the outrageously high cost of health care, the CEOs of 300 major health care companies collectively made $4.5 billion in total compensation in 2021. While one out of four Americans cannot afford the life-saving medicine their doctors prescribe, last year ten of the top pharmaceutical companies in the United States made over $112 billion in profits, and the top 50 executives in these companies made a combined $1.5 billion in total compensation.

Implemented over four years, the Medicare for All Act would provide comprehensive health care coverage to all with no out-of-pocket expenses, insurance premiums, deductibles, or co-payments. This includes coverage for primary care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, mental health, substance use disorder, long-term services and supports, reproductive health care, and more. The legislation would create a more streamlined and cost-effective system, allow patients not to worry if their doctor is “in-network,” and substantially reduce the cost of prescription drugs by allowing the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare for All would save the American people and the entire health care system $650 billion each year. A study by Yale epidemiologists, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, estimates that Medicare for All would save some 68,000 lives per year simply by guaranteeing health care to all as a right. A study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare-for-all system would save a family with an income of less than $185,000 about $3,000 a year, on average.

In 2020, 69 percent of the American people supported providing Medicare to every American.

Nearly 200 national, state, and local organizations endorsed the Medicare For All legislation, including: National Nurses United, American Medical Student Association, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, National Organization of Women, SEIU, AFA—CWA, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE), United Mine Workers of America, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, Center for Popular Democracy, and National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Read the bill summary, here.
Read the bill fact sheet, here.
Read the list of organizational support, here.
Read the bill text, here.

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