16 January 2018

Senator Sanders Pushing For Single-Payer Health System

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In the wake of the failure of the American Health Care Act to pass, there are moves in both the Senate and in the state of New York to move toward a single-payer health care system.

Senator Bernie Sanders, according to a Politico report, plans to introduce a single-payer health care bill that he describes as a “Medicare-for-all” proposal.

And in New York state, the Huffington Post reports, Senator Jeffrey Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in the state Senate, has announced that he will co-sponsor a “Medicare-for-all” system and bring the rest of his caucus along with him.

Sanders could be taking advantage of a chink in President Trump’s armor—his promise that health care would be “a much better health care plan at much less money.”

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 62 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of health care.

And in part, that’s how Sanders is positioning the proposal, saying that a single-payer plan could help to deliver on another Trump promise—to lower prescription drug prices—and that he, Sanders, would look to work with the White House on the legislation.

Trump has already raised the possibility of negotiating on health care with Democrats, after the Freedom Caucus helped to send the AHCA down to defeat before it even came to a vote.

Passage of the New York measure is iffy, since the IDC does not caucus with the other Democrats in the New York Senate.

There are 63 seats in the Senate, so 32 senators are needed for a majority—and while Republicans have 31, a Democratic senator, Simcha Felder, caucuses with Republicans; that gives them control of the chamber.

If single-payer is to have any chance of passage—the state Assembly is expected to pass its own version either this month or next—IDC support is essential, although Republicans are still expected to stop the bill. The Assembly has already passed single-payer legislation in 2015 and in 2016, but Republicans in the Senate never considered it.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who represents the northwest Bronx, has characterized the IDC support for the measure as a critical development.

The IDC has previously been supporting Trump Republicans, but progressive Democrats have been putting pressure on the group and protesting them.

And New York isn’t the only state considering single-payer; California legislators are pushing to implement a single-payer system, although Jerry Brown, the state’s Democratic governor, is concerned about its cost.

Why the sudden push for single-payer? Dinowitz was quoted in the report saying, “In the wake of Trump being elected, the issue of health care has moved to the top of the agenda for a lot of people. If people think we can rest on our laurels because repeal of Obamacare collapsed, they’re mistaken. Obamacare was a compromise of a compromise.”

If both New York and California manage to pass single-payer systems in the next few years, he added, approximately a fifth of the country would be covered just by those two states.

Click here for the original article from Benefits Pro.

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