Bernie Sanders: 'Now is the time to extend Medicare to everyone'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.) in an op-ed published Wednesday called for Congress to act now to extend Medicare to all Americans.

Sanders wrote in The New York Times that the U.S. is at a pivotal moment in its history.

"Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right?" he asked.

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"Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?"

The Vermont senator said he has heard from Americans across the country struggling with the "dysfunctional" health-care system. 

"Americans should not hesitate about going to the doctor because they do not have enough money," Sanders wrote.

"They should not worry that a hospital stay will bankrupt them or leave them deeply in debt. They should be able to go to the doctor they want, not just one in a particular network."

Sanders said that although the U.S. spends "far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation," millions of Americans remain uninsured.

"The reason that our health care system is so outrageously expensive is that it is not designed to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way, but to provide huge profits to the medical-industrial complex," he wrote.

The solution, Sanders said, is not "hard to understand."

"Guaranteeing comprehensive health benefits to Americans over 65 has proved to be enormously successful, cost-effective and popular," Sanders wrote.

"Now is the time to expand and improve Medicare to cover all Americans."

Sanders said his proposal is not a radical idea, pointing to the Medicare for All Act he will introduce in the Senate on Wednesday. The legislation has 15 co-sponsors and "support from dozens of grass-roots organizations," he added.

It would guarantee that every family in America has comprehensive coverage.

Sanders acknowledged there will be "huge opposition" to his proposal.

"But they are on the wrong side of history," he said.

"Guaranteeing health care as a right is important to the American people not just from a moral and financial perspective; it also happens to be what the majority of the American people want."

Sanders called for Congress to act now.

"Now is the time for Congress to stand with the American people and take on the special interests that dominate health care in the United States," he wrote. "Now is the time to extend Medicare to everyone."