Sept. 13, 2017
Sanders’ Medicare-for-All Legislation Is the Right Thing to Do – Politically, Economically and Morally; Now Politicians Must Take a Stand
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: Today at 2 p.m., U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is scheduled to introduce single-payer legislation. Tune into Public Citizen’s Facebook page to watch it live and hear our reaction.
It is past time for America to join the rest of the industrialized world and ensure that health care is a guaranteed right for everyone.
That’s why today’s introduction by Senator Bernie Sanders and 16 colleagues of single-payer, Medicare-for-All legislation is so vital.
The moral, policy and economic case for single-payer is overwhelming. Under our current system, we pay far more for far less. The United States spends far more per capita on health care than other rich countries and has the worst health outcomes and the most severe inequality in access to needed care, by far. It is disgraceful that one in three Americans had a cost-related access to health care problem in the past year.
With single-payer, everyone is covered as a matter of right, solving the access problems. And while, yes, it will be expensive – health care is expensive – it will yield hundreds of billions in savings annually, by eliminating wasteful corporate bureaucracy and slashing drug prices, among other means.
Today’s introduction signifies the beginning of a new phase in the campaign for Medicare-for-All.
The broad senatorial support for the Sanders legislation – along with majority support in the House Democratic caucus for H.R. 676, the single-payer legislation in the House – is a political landmark because it moves single-payer from the edge to the mainstream of policy debate. Starting today, it is no longer possible for elected officials to avoid answering questions about single-payer or to dismiss it out of hand on the grounds that it is not politically viable. Now, they have to take a stand based on the merits. And the evidence makes an overwhelming case for single-payer.
No advocate for single-payer has any illusion that we’re going to win quickly or easily. But we are going to win, by growing a movement powerful enough to defeat the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital corporations vested in the current, failed system. That so many members of Congress are eager to support single-payer is a sign that that movement is now starting to form.