Bernie’s New Bill: Free Health Care for Everyone Could Come With a Cost

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, to reintroduce his "Medicare for All" legislation to create a government-run health insurance plan. Sanders is joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Activists wearing red “Medicare for All” and “Democratic Socialists of America” t-shirts flooded Capitol Hill on Wednesday to attend a press conference where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reintroduced a single-payer healthcare bill.

“It is not a radical idea to say that in the United States, every American who goes to a doctor should be able to afford the prescription drug he or she needs,” Sanders said in an Associated Press (AP) report on the press conference.

“Medicare for All” is also one of the main planks of Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign platform.

“The latest edition of his ‘Medicare for All’ adds coverage for long-term care in home and community settings, on top of its basic promise of comprehensive health coverage with no premiums, deductibles or copays,” AP reported. “As with previous versions, Sanders did not include detailed proposals on how to pay for the plan.”

But MarketWatch reported Sanders does have some payment plans:

He suggests a tax both on the employee and employer sides. For employees, Sanders says there could be a 4% income-based premium paid by employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four; for employers, a 7.5% income-based premium, exempting the first $2 million in payroll to protect small businesses.

From there, Sanders proposes a variety of progressive tax changes, including imposing a marginal tax rate of up to 70% on those making above $10 million, taxing earned and unearned income at the same rates, limiting tax deductions for filers in the top tax bracket, establishing a tax on extreme wealth and making the estate tax more progressive, including a 77% top rate on an inheritance above $1 billion.

Other ideas include closing a loophole that allows self-employed people to set up S corporations and avoid paying into Social Security and Medicare; imposing a fee on big banks; ending health tax expenditures; and “repealing corporate accounting gimmicks.”

“Health care is a human right, not a privilege,” Sanders said.

In the same way that Democrats, including those vying with Sanders for the Democrat presidential nomination, have moved farther to the left with their support of the Green New Deal and reparations for descendants of slaves, they are also joining the free-health-care-for-all bandwagon. 

“Four of Sanders’ fellow senators and rivals for the Democratic nomination have signed onto the updated single-payer health care proposal,” AP reported. “The bill’s reintroduction promises to shine a light on Democrats’ disparate visions for the long-term future of American health care.”

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are listed as co-sponsors of the bill, according to ABC News, and Gillibrand was on the stage with Sanders cheering with the rest of his fans.

“Of course, our No. 1 goal should be to make sure we keep in place those protections, so people don’t get kicked off their insurance,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), said on Tuesday, according to AP. “Then we also have to see the Affordable Care Act as a beginning and not an end.”

“The Medicare for All Act will provide comprehensive health care to every man, woman and child in our country without out of pocket expenses. No more insurance premiums, deductibles or co-payments. Further, this bill improves Medicare coverage to include dental, hearing and vision care,” a summary of the bill given to the media ahead of the press conference said.

“Together we are going to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America — our great country — being the only major nation on the earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right,” Sanders said.

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