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Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces Single-Payer Healthcare Reform Bill S.703

March 30th, 2009 by selise

From the PNHP press release:

Single-payer health reform bill introduced in Senate
Would save $400 billion on bureaucracy, enough to cover all 46 million uninsured Americans

Challenging head-on the powerful private insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer health reform bill, the American Health Security Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

The single-payer approach embodied in Sanders’ new bill stands in sharp contrast to the reform models being offered by the White House and by key lawmakers like Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Their plans would preserve a central role for the private insurance industry, sacrificing both universal coverage and cost containment during the worst economic crisis since the Depression.

In contrast, Sanders’ new legislation would cover all of the 46 million Americans who currently lack coverage and improve benefits for all Americans by eliminating co-pays and deductibles and restoring free choice of physician. The most fiscally conservative option for reform, single payer slashes private insurance overhead and bureaucracy in medical settings, saving over $400 billion annually that can be redirected into clinical care.

Highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice.
  • The program is paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes amounting to less than what people now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Comprehensive benefits, including coverage for dental, mental health, and prescription drugs.
  • While federally funded, the program is to be administered by the states.
  • By eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private, investor-owned insurance industry, along with the burdensome paperwork imposed on physicians, hospitals and other providers, the plan saves at least $400 billion annually – enough money to provide comprehensive, quality care to all.
  • Community health centers are fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care.
  • To address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals.

Sanders, who serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, is a longtime advocate of fundamental health care reform. His new bill draws heavily upon the single-payer legislation introduced by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) in 1993, S. 491, and closely parallels similar legislation pending before the House, H.R. 1200, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

More from PNHP’s blog:

At a rare time in our history when comprehensive reform may become a reality, it is important that the single payer model be represented in the legislative process. The House already has Rep. John Conyers’ H.R.676 and Rep. Jim McDermott’s H.R.1200, and now the Senate has Sen. Bernie Sanders’ S.703.

S.703 is very similar to H.R.1200, with two important additions regarding budgeting. Specified funds are budgeted for community health centers, and other specified funds are budgeted for the support of the National Health Service Corps, health professions education, and nursing education, including education of clinical nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants.

These additions in budgeting are not simple tweaks to the bill. They provide a remedy for both the deterioration in our primary care infrastructure and the impaired access to care in underserved regions. There is an urgent need to provide the professionals and the facilities that can help fill the most serious voids in our health care delivery system today.

This is a great time for us to call our Senators and ask them to co-sponsor Senator Sanders’ bill, S.703 : A bill to provide for health care for every American and to control the cost and enhance the quality of the health care system. And while we’re at it, to also call our Representative to ask them to co-sponsor Representative John Conyers’ bill H.R.676 (or thank them if they already have). Here’s some background on H.R.676.

Toll free phone numbers (thanks katymine!) to the capitol switchboard (call one of these numbers and then just ask for any congress member’s office):

(800) 828 – 0498
(800) 459 – 1887
(800) 614 – 2803
(866) 340 – 9281
(866) 338 – 1015
(877) 851 – 6437

There’s no reason healthcare reform should be designed to help big insurance and big pharma instead of us.

x-posted at oxdown

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