WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Big proposed changes to your health care on Capitol Hill won’t survive if they’re not passed by the end of the month. The latest proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is one even some allies said could help Republican efforts to rollback Obamacare.
Sanders’ plans to cover every American man, woman, and child through Medicare – and after his presidential run – the idea is no longer limited to just the fringe of the left.
But back in his Senate office, he concedes it’s not politically realistic to hope for passage, with Republicans in control of both chambers of congress and the White House.
“Surely, they’re not going to support Medicare For All, I understand that,” said Sanders in a one-on-one interview, “but you’ve got to start the ball rolling some place, and now is the time to do that.”
Sanders, backed by 16 Democratic Senators, wants to expand the government insurance program for senior citizens to all Americans. Tax bills would rise, but he says substantially lower out-of-pocket insurance costs for businesses and individuals will more than make up the difference.
He says where the plan is incomplete – his peers and the public should develop the solution. “I don’t have all the answers, and nobody has all the answers,” he said
Here’s what we do know:
- Sanders proposes phasing everyone into Medicaid over four years.
- He wants the program to cover even more – like dental and vision.
- Patients would pay nothing at the doctor’s office – just taxes.
- Sanders suggests a new income tax for everyone, payroll taxes for most businesses, and hefty increases for millionaires.
- The plan banks on half-a-trillion dollars in savings -- from administrative efficiency and hard-line negotiations with drug companies.
Sanders would not hazard a guess at the price tag.
Neither would experts like Henry Aaron of the left-leaning Brookings Institution. “But there’s one word that will describe it: more,” he said, “a whole lot more.”
Aaron supports Sanders’ desire to have every American insured, but said the proposal is too revolutionary, attempting to do too much, too quickly.
That Aaron said could scar the economy, and Democratic efforts to maintain Obama-era reforms. “I think the means [Sanders] is proposing for us to get there is ill-advised and adverse to the liberal agenda,” said Aaron.
Aaron said prescription drug reform is the most practical and doable of Sanders’ proposals. But, experts on the right, like Joseph Antos from the American Enterprise Institute, said that’s more complicated than it sounds.
“Negotiating prices means you have to be able to say ‘no, we’re not going to pay for that’ and on drugs, that’s a very difficult thing to do,” said Antos.
Politically realistic or not, Sanders won’t be walking away from his big idea anytime soon, especially now that the rest of D.C. is paying attention to it.
If you would like to watch Kyle’s full interview with Sen. Sanders click on the video link at the top of the page.