Sanders reintroduces single-payer Medicare bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders and 14 other senators introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2022 on May 12 to create a federally-administered single-payer healthcare system.

Under the bill, the program would be implemented over a four-year period.

In the first year, traditional Medicare would begin covering dental, vision and hearing aids for those not eligible under current law. The Medicare eligibility age would be lowered to 55 and Medicare Part A, B and D deductibles would be eliminated, as would premiums and copays. People 18 and younger would become eligible to enroll in the new program. A transition plan would also be established to address coverage gaps.

The Medicare eligibility age would be lowered to 45 in the second year and to 35 in the third year.

By the fourth year, every U.S. citizen would be eligible for comprehensive benefits and would receive a Medicare card to access care.

Benefits would include:

1. Hospital services, including inpatient and outpatient hospital care, 24-hour emergency services and inpatient prescription drugs.

2. Ambulatory patient services.

3. Primary and preventive services, including chronic disease management.

4. Prescription drugs, medical devices and biological products.

5. Mental health and substance use treatment.

6. Laboratory and diagnostic services.

7. Comprehensive reproductive, maternity and newborn care, including abortion.

8. Pediatrics, including early and periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment.

9. Dental health, audiology and vision services.

10. Home- and community-based long-term services.

Institutional long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities would continue as it is currently covered under Medicaid. Health benefits provided through Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service would also remain unchanged.

When the legislation was introduced, Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel testified before the Senate Budget Committee to deliver a report about the financial and medical effects of implementing a national single-payer system. 

The report concluded that federal subsidies for healthcare in 2030 would increase to a range of $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion and gross domestic product would be approximately 1 percent to 10 percent lower by 2030.

Read the full bill here.

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