Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill
The Hill will be providing live updates as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduces his “Medicare for all” bill on Wednesday.
Single-payer unveiling wraps up
The Senate Democrats’ press conference to unveil a single-payer health-care plan has concluded, with supporters dispersing around the room. Several chants began again as Sanders departed.
Read more about the single-payer plan here.
Dem senator makes case for single-payer in personal terms
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) evoked a personal story when discussing her support for single-payer health care.
“We’re all one diagnosis away from a major illness,” said Hirono, who was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer earlier this year.
Hirono said she was lucky to have health care while echoing the refrain used by many single-payer supporters — that health care is a right and not a privilege.
Warren: ‘We will go further’ than protecting ObamaCare
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Democrats would continue to defend ObamaCare but would “go further” to ensure that everyone has health insurance.
“We will not back down in our protection of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “We will defend it at every turn, but we will go further and say in this country everyone, everyone gets a right to basic health care.”
Warren’s comment came a day after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to endorse the “Medicare for all” plan. Pelosi said she was focused on protecting ObamaCare.
Schumer said Tuesday at a weekly press conference: “Democrats believe that health care is a right for all, and there are many different bills out there. There are many good ones.”
Sanders to GOP: ‘Don’t lecture us on health care’
Sanders drew a direct contrast between how he aims to sell his plan and the Republican bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which drew criticism even from within the GOP for being written behind closed doors.
The Independent Vermont senator said he plans to get feedback from people around the country on his legislation.
“To my Republican colleagues, please don’t lecture us on health care,” Sanders said.
The Universal Medicare program would be rolled out over a four-year period, with the eligibility age dropping each year until every U.S. resident is eligible.
Children younger than age 18 would automatically be eligible for coverage within the first year of the program.
Sanders said taxes would go up, but that would be offset by the “elimination of private insurance costs.”
Sanders: Families better off without private insurance bill
Sanders kicked off his speech by stressing a familiar argument he has made: Health care in America must be a right and not a privilege.
“‘We’re here to tell those families and people all across this country that under ‘Medicare for all,’ the average American family will be much better off financially than under the current system because you will no longer be writing checks to private insurance companies,” he said.
On prescription drugs, Sanders said the government will negotiate prices in an effort to make them cheaper.
He also argued that employees won’t have to be stuck in jobs they don’t want because they’re afraid of losing health insurance, while one supporter said, “exactly, exactly.”
White House spokesperson rips ‘horrible’ single-payer plan
While Democrats were unveiling their single-payer plan on Capitol Hill, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ripped the plan as a “horrible idea.”
“I can’t think of anything worse than having government being more involved in your health care,” the Trump spokeswoman said during the daily White House briefing.
Sanders enters to cheers at presser
Sanders entered his press conference to cheers, with several supporters standing up and chanting “Medicare for all.”
“The American people want to know what we’re going to do to fix a dysfunctional health care system, which costs us twice as much” per person as any other country, Sanders said.
He then announced the names of the 16 Democratic cosponsors of his legislation.
When Sanders last released a single-payer plan in 2013, no other senators signed onto the legislation.
Sanders releases bill
Sanders’s “Medicare for all” bill has been released ahead of his press conference outlining the plan. The materials released include a document on ways to finance the single-player plan, which critics have previously derided as too expensive.
Line forms for spot in hearing room
More than two dozen people are waiting in line to file into the hearing room, some with “Medicare for all, health care is a right” signs in hand.
Reporters and staff are roaming the room in the Hart Senate office building, which is usually used for hearings, and is adorned with two “Health Care is a Right” signs in spots where senators would usually sit to grill witnesses.
Sanders to have plenty of company at presser
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will be joined by other Democratic senators when he introduces his “Medicare for all” bill on Wednesday.
The guests will include a number of other senators who like Sanders are seen as potential White House candidates in 2020. The group includes Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).
The popularity of the single-payer issue on the left may make it difficult for Democrats interested in a White House run to not offer the backing — a remarkable change from 2013 when no co-sponsors emerged on a similar Sanders offering.
Other co-sponsors of the bill are Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Al Franken (Minn.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).