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Medicare-for-All Legislation in the Senate & House

Senator Bernie Sanders & Representative Pramila Jayapal re-introduced their Medicare-for-All bills on May 17th. Although prospects for passage are low this Congress, enthusiasm for organizing is high. By including everyone in health care, we save money. If only the Right and Left could unite on this eminently practical solution to our health care mess.

May 18, 2023

Sen. Bernie Sanders renews push for Medicare for All to end ‘totally broken’ health-care system
May 17, 2023
By Lorie Konish

For many Americans, a medical emergency can lead to a financial crisis due to the high cost of health care in the U.S.

This week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is renewing his push for a new approach — Medicare for All — that he touted as a presidential candidate.

“The current health-care system in the United States is totally broken,” Sanders said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill event.

“It is totally dysfunctional, and it is extremely cruel,” he said.

With the support of Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Debbie Dingell of Michigan, the lawmakers plan to reintroduce a bill, titled Medicare for All Act of 2023, in both the House and the Senate on Wednesday.

In the House, the proposal will have 112 co-sponsors, more than they have ever had at the introduction of the bill, Jayapal noted, despite having fewer Democratic seats than in the previous Congress.

Medicare for All would create a single-payer program, which would allow one source to collect all health-care fees and pay all health-care costs.

“It is long overdue for us to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all of its people,” Sanders said. “Now is the time for a Medicare for All single-payer program.”

The Evidence Is Clear: Medicare for All Will Save Money and Lives
Common Dreams
May 18, 2023
By James G. Kahn & Alison Galvani

Will Medicare for All raise or lower healthcare costs in the United States? Is it affordable?

We led two academic teams that published scientific papers to address this, the only peer-reviewed medical articles on this topic in the last 30 years. We worked separately, at Yale University and the University of California.

We think it’s time to retire doubts about the net cost of single payer or Medicare for All. The evidence for big savings is real.

We came to the same conclusion: Yes, Medicare for All will save money, by removing unnecessary paperwork and insurance company profits, lowering drug costs, and other factors. These savings will more than offset the cost of improving coverage and expanding it to everyone.

What’s the difference between these studies, which conclude that single payer would save money, and other studies that conclude it would not?

First, the Yale and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) studies are peer-reviewed, which means that the reports were closely examined by experts in the field for validity, and refinements implemented to satisfy the reviewers and editor. Other studies were not subject to this rigorous scrutiny.

Second, the Yale and UCSF studies are based on a strict definition of what makes a healthcare financing system “single-payer.” Some studies purporting to be about single-payer include private insurers and their added costs in their calculations.

Third, the Yale and UCSF researchers do not stand to profit from the outcome. They are academics, not consultants paid by clients with strong political and policy priorities.

Comment by: Jim Kahn

Senator Sanders has long battled for Medicare for All, and Representative Jayapal, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, now spearheads the House effort.

These inspiring leaders re-introduced their legislative proposals, with many co-sponsors. Sad to say, this Congress (and this political moment) bodes poorly for passage. But it bodes well for organizing. Single payer discussion, education, and coalition-building continues, at the federal level and in the states.

The Common Dreams piece (full disclosure: I’m an author) reviews the powerful economic argument that savings (from administrative simplification and drug price reductions) means lowered costs despite increased access to and use of care, averting tens of thousands of deaths per year.

Single payer, Medicare-for-All is the right thing to do – efficient and effective. If we could only convince the GOP that it’s the Right thing to do! They certainly won’t be Left out when the US implements high quality universal health insurance. (Seriously, right and left are united on this issue in dozens of other countries, so it’s not such a crazy idea.)

About the Commentator, Jim Kahn

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Jim (James G.) Kahn, MD, MPH (editor) is an Emeritus Professor of Health Policy, Epidemiology, and Global Health at the University of California, San Francisco. His work focuses on the cost and effectiveness of prevention and treatment interventions in low and middle income countries, and on single payer economics in the U.S. He has studied, advocated, and educated on single payer since the 1994 campaign for Prop 186 in California, including two years as chair of Physicians for a National Health Program California.

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