US Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled his updated Medicare For All plan Wednesday with several rival Democratic presidential hopefuls jumping onboard, spotlighting his 2020 campaign call for a national health insurance program.
The idealistic legislation has little to no chance of passage in a divided Congress and in the run-up to next year’s election. But Sanders, a current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, is laying down an important policy marker at the outset of the race.
“The American people want — and we are going to deliver — a Medicare For All, single-payer system,” Sanders said at a Capitol Hill press conference.
His plan would convert public and private insurers into a government-run system which the senator said would hit back at the “greed and profiteering” of health providers and the insurance industry, and could save hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
“Together we are going to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America, our great country, being the only major nation on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right,” he said.
Critics, including some Democrats, warn that the plan could end up costing trillions of dollars over the coming decade.
Sanders was reintroducing a version of his legislation that he put forward in 2017, with support from several fellow senators who are now in the presidential race.
The current bill’s co-sponsors include White House hopefuls Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
“It’s what our country needs,” Gillibrand said of universal health care. “This has to become the next social safety net.”
The messaging comes as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that became law under predecessor Barack Obama, and as the number of uninsured Americans soared by seven million since 2017, to roughly 34 million people.
Obamacare opponents argue that costs have risen for millions of enrollees, but supporters say that has occurred largely because of Republican and Trump administration efforts to chip away at the law’s provisions.
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway blasted Sanders’ universal health care plan early Wednesday, saying “Medicare For All mean choices for none.”