Sanders reintroduces single-payer Medicare bill with record sponsors

Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Debbie Dingell, introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2023 on May 17 to create a federally administered single-payer healthcare system.

The legislation is co-sponsored by 14 other senators. In the House, the proposal has 110 more co-sponsors, a record high for support of the legislation.

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 and B deductibles would be eliminated, as would premiums and copays, with some exceptions for prescription drugs. 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.

It would be illegal for commercial payers and employers to sell or offer policies that duplicate benefits provided under a single-payer system. Individual states would be permitted to provide additional benefits for their residents.

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 and medical devices, including outpatient drugs, biologics, and FDA-approved contraceptives.

5. Mental health and substance use treatment.

6. Laboratory and diagnostic services.

7. Comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, contraception and assisted reproductive technology.

8. Comprehensive maternity and newborn care.

9. Comprehensive gender-affirming care.

10. Dental, audiology and vision services.

11. Rehabilitative and habilitative services.

12. Emergency services, including transportation.

13. Pediatrics, including early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment services

14. Necessary transportation to receive services for persons with disabilities, older individuals, and those with low incomes.

15. Services provided by a licensed marriage and family therapist or a licensed mental health counselor.

16. Home- and community-based long-term care services and support.

17. Any item or service described above that is furnished using telehealth, to the extent practicable.

Read the full bill here.

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