Sanders to introduce single-payer health care bill after Senate bill is defeated
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health care bill — projected to leave 541,000 Kentuckians uninsured by 2022 — is defeated he will file a Medicare, single-payer health care bill.
Sanders spoke Sunday in West Virginia before coming to Covington where he was greeted by a little more than 2,000 attendees for the Care Not Cuts Rally. Sanders called for an improvement of the Affordable Care Act instead of destroying it.
Calling both the House and recent Senate health care bills the most devastating pieces of legislation in recent American history, Sanders said both President Donald Trump’s and McConnell’s efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act isn’t an effort to help working-class Kentuckians or fellow Americans, but a death sentence for millions who won’t have access to affordable health care.
“How it could be that the leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell of this state, could be working so hard to destroy the Affordable Care Act, which has benefitted this state more than any other state in America? That, I do not understand,” Sanders said. “The so called health care bill that passed the House several months ago, strongly supported by President Trump, is the most anti-working class legislation that I have ever seen and the Senate bill in many aspects is even worse.”
When the Senate bill could throw an estimated 22 million additional people off of their current health insurance coverage including more than 230,000 Kentuckians, Sanders asked attendees how anyone could begin to consider such legislation.
“We are gathered here tonight to make one simple point and that is: we will not allow 22 million Americans to be thrown off of their health insurance they currently have in order to give $500 billion in tax breaks to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said. “We are not going to take from the most vulnerable in order to make the very rich even richer. A health care bill is a bill to improve health care not make it worse. Morality and justice isn’t about taking from those that are in need to give to those that are billionaires. As soon as we defeat this disastrous bill, I will be introducing a Medicare-for-all, single-payer bill.”
After announcing he would draft a bill, the crowd erupted into the loudest cheers and applause of the night.
Sanders included several specific points of impact McConnell's health care bill could make on Kentuckians:
• The uninsured rate for Kentuckians has gone from over 20 percent in 2013 to 7 percent in 2016 — largest in the nation;
• Only 4 percent of Kentucky children remain uninsured;
• Cutting Medicaid over $800 billion in a 10-year period and $47 billion in Kentucky, the state's children with disabilities will no longer have adequate health care;
• If you are a 60-year-old Kenton County worker who earns $40,000 annually and the bill passes, your health insurance premium would increase from about $4,000 per year to $7,000.
Criticizing Senate Republicans for working on the bill in secret, Sanders said McConnell and other Republicans haven’t allowed doctors, nurses, senior citizens or any medical professionals knowledgeable of such challenges as the opioid epidemic in Kentucky and across the country to testify in a public hearing on the bill and such secrecy is a disgrace.
“I know that there are some people in Kentucky who will say Bernie Sanders is a progressive, a proud progressive, and of course given his politics he will disagree with Sen. McConnell,” Sanders said. “I want to tell all of you and the people of Kentucky, it’s not just Bernie Sanders who disagrees with Sen. McConnell on this legislation. Virtually, every healthcare organization disagrees with Sen. McConnell. It is the AARP — the largest senior group in this country — who disagrees with this legislation because they understand what a disaster it will be.”
Naming also the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and several others, Sanders said no health organization supports the bill and everyone should listen to their opposition.
According to a June 26 report by the Congressional Budget Office, if McConnell’s bill passes in the Senate and House, an estimated 541,000 more Kentuckians would be uninsured by 2022.
Before going into recess, McConnell couldn’t muster enough support for the bill’s passage from Senate Republicans and said a limited bill may be needed to support the insurance marketplace.
Despite having the majority in both chambers, Republicans and namely McConnell has been unsuccessful to deliver on his promise to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Sunday night, Sanders stressed the need to revise the act, which gave more than 470,000 Kentuckians health coverage as a result of the Medicaid expansion under former Gov. Steve Beshear, instead of replacing it.
Sanders thanked several organizations for helping organize the rally including the Kentucky Democratic Party, the Ohio Democratic Party, the Kenton County Democratic Party, Our Revolution Greater Cincinnati and Indivisible 513.
Additional comments from Sanders on the bill, Trump and McConnell below.