Sanders Proposes Medicare for All Act of 2017
Senator Bernie Sanders recently proposed Senate Bill 1804, which seeks to expand Medicare into a universal health insurance program. The bill would replace America’s health care system with a public system funded by higher taxes.
Expected Benefits. Enrolled individuals would be entitled to certain
essential health benefits, including hospital services; ambulatory patient services; primary and preventive services; prescription drugs, medical devices, and biological products; mental health and substance abuse treatment services (including inpatient care); laboratory and diagnostic services; comprehensive reproductive, maternity, and newborn care; pediatrics; oral health, audiology, and vision services; and short-term rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.
Rollout. Children would immediately receive universal Medicare cards. Adults not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased in over four years based on age. In the first year, the plan would cover Americans over 55. By year two, everyone over 45 would be covered. In year three, the plan would cover those over 35, and in year four, all Americans would be covered.
Funding. The bill is projected to require significantly more revenue,
but there is no plan for how to fund the bill. Senator Sanders released a number of funding proposals, including a 7.5 percent payroll tax on employers, a 4 percent income tax, and additional taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations. Critics say that even the proposed methods would fall far short of funding the plan.
Support. The bill is backed by at least 16 Democratic senators, which is an unprecedented level of support for this type of proposal. In the House, a single payer bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers has the support of more than 60 percent of Democrats.
Insurance Response. Insurance industry representatives criticize the bill, indicating it will eliminate choice, undermine quality, stymie innovation, and place a heavier burden on taxpayers.