On December 9 Senator Bernie Sanders (I., VT) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to provide healthcare to everyone in America through a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system.
“The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to its people,” Sanders said. “It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage.”
The Bill, S. 1782, The American Health Security Act of 2013, would cover “every individual who is a resident of the United States” in a state-administered health security program. The programs would provide comprehensive “womb to tomb” coverage and coverage would be seamlessly transferrable between states. The programs would be publicly financed through an equitable system of progressive taxation, payroll taxes and re-allocation of current dedicated healthcare expenditures by the federal, state and local governments.
The Sanders Bill comes at a time of growing frustration with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “As the President fully understands, the rollout has been a disaster,” said Sanders in a recent interview in The Daily Beast.
“But the truth is, even if all of those problems were corrected tomorrow and if the ACA did all that it was supposed to do, it would be only a modest step forward to dealing with the dysfunction of the American healthcare system. When you have a lot of complications, it is an opportunity for insurance companies and drug companies and medical equipment suppliers to make billions and billions of profits rather than to see our money go into healthcare and making people well.”
A recent Labor Campaign for Single Payer Briefing Paper asserted that, “because it relies on employment-based coverage to provide the lion’s share of healthcare insurance while, perversely, undermining key aspects of that coverage, we have concluded that the ACA will place new stresses and pressures on collective bargaining.” The paper urged the labor movement to “finish the job” by making healthcare a right for all.
Vermont AFL-CIO President George Lovell hailed Senator Sanders’ efforts. “Vermont is well on its way to being the first state to establish healthcare as a fundamental human right. We are proud that Bernie is the first to introduce national single-payer legislation in the Senate and Vermont labor wholeheartedly supports him.”
Labor support for a single-payer solution to the healthcare crisis continues to grow. Last month’s Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Biennial Convention unanimously affirmed its support for the Labor Campaign and urged “our federal and state legislators to enact legislation that embodies the principles of a national single payer system and that we will urge our union and community allies to make such legislation a priority in all state and federal electoral efforts.”
On December 6, the New York City Central Labor Council, the largest labor council in the U. S., joined the Progressive Democrats of America in hosting Congressman John Conyers in a breakfast briefing on HR 676.
We must now focus on recruiting additional co-sponsors for S 1782. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer will be working with its allies to assure that Bernie Sanders does not stand alone in the U.S. Senate in his fight for healthcare justice. If your union can work with us to help convince other Senators to stand with Bernie, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.