Bernie Sanders Just Released His Single-Payer Health Care Plan – Patrick Caldwell Sep. 13, 2017 5:22 PM

Democrats are lining up to support it.


Medicare for All is officially en vogue among Democrats angling for national attention. With Republicans’ efforts to repeal Obamacare flailing, progressives have gone on offense, focusing on their own aspirations for the nation’s health care system. And a growing number of elected Democrats are lining up behind a single-payer plan that is far more ambitious than anything enacted by President Barack Obama.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced an ambitious proposal to transition the country away from a system of private health insurance, with the government instead offering a beefed up version of Medicare to every person in the country. “Health care in American must be a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said. ‘Today, we begin the long and difficult struggle to end the international disgrace of the United States, our great nation, being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all of our people. As proud Americans, our job is to lead the world on health care, not to be woefully behind every other major country.”

Sanders’ plan would be phased in over four years. In the first year, everyone 18-years-old and younger could enroll in Medicare, as could anyone 55-years-of-age or older. That upper threshold would slowly be lowered so that four years out, everyone in the country would be eligible for Medicare, with every American receiving a new Medicare card guaranteeing them coverage.

Article continues:

Everything You Need to Know About the Single-Payer Fight in California – Patrick Caldwell Jun. 7, 2017 6:00 AM

The $400 billion plan to rebuild the state’s health care system.

Marchers at a Medicare-for-all rally in Los Angeles, California on February 4, 2017Ronen Tivony/ZUMA

As Donald Trump and congressional Republicans struggle to repeal Obamacare, Democrats in the nation’s most populous state are pushing a very different reform proposal that would radically change the way health care is paid for. Last week, the California Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would demolish the state’s current insurance plans and replace them with a single-payer system that would provide comprehensive treatment to all residents free of charge. The measure is still a long way from becoming law, but progressives already see it as a model for how states can expand access to care even as Republicans at the national level try to roll back coverage.

In many ways, the single-payer bill is quite simple; for consumers, it would mean no more copays, no more figuring out which doctors are in-network or out-of-network, and no more searching the health care marketplace for the plan that’s right for you. At the same time, it’s an immensely complicated scheme that would fundamentally alter the state’s health care system and its relationship with the federal government. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s going on?

On June 1, the California state Senate passed SB 562 by a vote of 23-14. One Democrat and every Republican voted against it (with three other Democrats not voting). The bill would essentially end private health insurance and most current forms of government insurance in the state, replacing those with a single, government-run insurance program that would pay health care providers (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) for treating patients. Californians would no longer get insurance from work or through Medicaid. Instead, all state residents would be eligible to enroll in a program that supporters have dubbed Healthy California. That program would come with zero out-of-pocket costs for patients. The bill now heads to the state Assembly, which will have to figure out a way to pay for it.

Who’d be covered under the single-payer system?

Everyone who lives in California (including college students, if their university decides to pay for the coverage). The rate of people without health insurance in the state has improved since Obamacare care went into effect, dropping from 17 percent in 2013 to 7 percent today. But that still leaves 3 million Californians without coverage, along with many residents who are paying more in premiums, co-pays, and deductibles than they’d like. Everyone would be eligible to enroll in Healthy California. That includes undocumented immigrants, who are currently shut out from Obamacare.

What would be covered?

Pretty much everything you can imagine. Healthy California would cover almost any sort of medical care, including things like dental, vision, and long-term care that are typically excluded from other government-funded insurance programs in the United States. There’d be no more restrictive HMO plans or out-of-network providers; instead, you’d be able to see any licensed doctor, and they’d be free to prescribe treatments they deem necessary.

How much would health care cost me under the plan?

Nothing. There state wouldn’t charge any premiums. There’d be no co-pay charge during a visit, no co-insurance, no deductibles. Prescriptions would be also be free. Out-of-pocket expenses would completely disappear.

Article continues:

Here’s why creating single-payer health care in America is so hard – Updated by Harold Pollack on January 16, 2016, 11:20 a.m. ET

To become politically feasible, an American single-payer system would necessarily replicate our current system’s most glaring defects.

The Hillary Clinton campaign is taking some hard knocks from liberals over its maladroit attacks on Bernie Sanders’ single-payer proposal. In one sense, the knocks are well-deserved. Even if single-payer markedly lowers medical expenditures, proponents such as Larry Seidman estimate that a tax increase of at least 8 percent of GDP would likely be required to finance it. That’s a heavy political lift. It’s about as much as the entire federal income tax on individuals.

Yet as proponents rightly observe, these taxes would replace many visible and invisible ways we now provide to support a health sector that consume more than 17 percent of our economy. The experience of peer industrial democracies suggests that a well-designed single-payer system would be more humane and markedly less expensive than what we have right now.

Such a system would certainly be less convoluted and bureaucratically hidebound. Aggressively deploying government power to rein in prices, a well-designed single-payer system would be more fiscally disciplined, and would probably be more effective in targeting resources to best promote public health. Sanders deserves credit for noting the real virtues of a well-executed single-payer system.

In another way, though, the Clintons’ critique raises uncomfortable questions that deserve greater attention. It’s commonplace (though true) to note that single-payer is beyond the current boundaries of American politics. But what if, by some miracle, liberal Democrats won comprehensive victories that created a window of opportunity in which single-payer becomes realistically possible?

Article continues: