Sanders plots another universal healthcare push

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday that he will introduce a single-payer, Medicare-for-all bill “in the very near future.”

{mosads}The presidential candidate spoke at a rally in a park across the street from the Capitol, in front of cheering union members celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare. He pushed for a universal system, in which the government provides health insurance for all.  

The senator said Medicare was worth celebrating but that “the time has come also to say that we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer, national healthcare program.”

A statement from Sanders’s office after the rally said that the bill would set “federal guidelines and strong minimum standards” but that states would administer the single-payer programs. 

Sanders has introduced single-payer bills in previous sessions of Congress as well. He said the widespread view that single-payer cannot be enacted is wrong. “All of the pundits always tell us what we cannot accomplish until the day after we accomplish it.”

Sanders also railed against pharmaceutical and insurance companies. He argued that his single-payer proposal would be cost-effective and pushed to allow Medicare to be able to negotiate the price of drugs with pharmaceutical companies. 

President Obama made a similar proposal for the ability to negotiate in his budget this year, but the practice is currently banned by the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law. 

The crowd cheered “No!” when Sanders asked if the country wants “drug companies to be making outrageous profits from people who can’t afford their products?”

Sanders also took a shot at Republican candidate Jeb Bush, who has drawn fire from Democrats for saying that he wants “phase out” Medicare and move to a new system. 

“When I hear politicians like Jeb Bush and others talking about phasing out Medicare, that ain’t going to happen,” Sanders said. 

Bush’s campaign told Bloomberg that the remark is being taken out of context and that Bush was referring to changes such as raising the retirement age and using “means-testing” that makes wealthier beneficiaries pay more. 

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