On the Sanders Medicare-for-All Bill

Senator Bernie Sanders introduces Medicare for All bill in the US Senate

By Kay Tillow

Sept. 21, 2017


Reflecting the growing support in the nation for single payer, Medicare-for-All health care, on September 13, 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S 1804, a Medicare for All bill in the US Senate.  There are 16 cosponsors including a number of senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker who are considered to be possible presidential candidates in the 2020 race.

The bill signals a major rise in public and mainstream opinion to move the nation forward to single payer, universal health care.

* When the bill is posted, you will be able to find the text here

* The Physicians for a National Health Program news release on the Sanders bill is here

* The discussion of the Sanders bill on NPR with Dr. Adam Gaffney of PNHP, Margo Sanger-Katz of the New York Times, Bill Scher of Politico, and Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico can be heard //the1a.org/audio/#/shows/2017-09-14/single-payer-gains-support-in-congress-and-in-the-public/112107/@00:00" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://the1a.org/audio/%23/shows/2017-09-14/single-payer-gains-support-in-congress-and-in-the-public/112107/@00:00&;source=gmail&ust=1506108661967000&usg=AFQjCNGCa9SX1fDplmavBNE-Hm-EjTi-Tw" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);">here

* Adam Gaffney, MD, answers questions on the Sanders Bill, video.

The Sanders bill is not the model single payer legislation (HR 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All) that has been introduced in the House by Congressman John Conyers.  The Sanders' bill omits any funding mechanism.   The Conyers billincludes progressive funding in Section 211.

Unlike the Conyers bill, the Sanders bill allows for-profit hospitals, dialysis centers, etc. to continue to profit from the system. 

Unlike the Conyers bill, the Sanders bill does not provide for global budgeting of hospitals nor does it separate capital expenditures from operating budgets, therefore bypassing major single payer cost saving mechanisms.  The Sanders bill maintains co-pays on non-generic drugs.

Unlike the Conyers bill, the Sanders bill does not include a national program for long term care but instead turns that over to the states in a means-tested Medicaid program.  In addition, the Sanders bill, unlike the Conyers bill, has four years of buy ins to Medicare, or the public option, prior to arriving at a single payer plan.  Such a four year lead in without the administrative savings of a single payer plan will bring unnecessary and detrimental obstacles to implementation.

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