WASHINGTON (WCAX) "The strengths of Medicare for all are not only its universality and its cost-effectiveness. It also ends the complexity of a system which adds
enormous stress at a time when people need it the least," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
In Washington, Sanders and 16 of his colleagues, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillilbrand and New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, introduced a "Medicare-for-all" bill. Medicare covers hospital stays and doctor visits. Sanders' bill would also have it pay for dental, vision and hearing aides.
"Today we say to those families in Vermont, Wisconsin, California and across the country who are spending 10, 15 or $20,000 a year on health insurance that we understand this is an insane and unaffordable amount of money to be spending simply to protect the well being of your family," Sanders said.
To start, the bill would expand current Medicare coverage to everyone 55 and older. After a four-year phase-in, every man, woman and child in America would be covered. And instead of paying insurance companies for private coverage, you'd pay more taxes to fund Medicare for all.
"I would be willing to, I think it, I agree with Bernie. I mean it's not a privilege, it's a right. Everybody should be able to participate in that," said Joan Batchelder of Brandon.
"Bernie, this ends your dream of a single-payer health care system for America," announced Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.
Republican leaders also introduced their version of a new health care plan claiming it could be the only chance at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
They would pay for it by taking money currently used for Medicaid expansion, Obamacare tax credits and other subsidies and giving it to the states in the form of block grants.
"There are three choices: prop up Obamacare, Bernie Care or our bill. That's where you're at. Count me out for propping up Obamacare. Hell no to Bernie Care. Count me in for an idea that gives a patient a voice they would never have under a single payer health care," Graham said.
Graham called the Sanders plan the end of health care quality and what he called a "sustainable federal budget." Sanders thinks otherwise.
"When millions of Americans stand up and fight back, when they become engaged politically, there is nothing that will stop us and we will finally do what we should have accomplished decades ago," Sanders said.
We wanted to find out the how much these plans would cost, but no one was able to put a price tag on either bill.