By Healthcare-NOW!’s Steering Committee -
With the introduction of Senate Bill 703, the single-payer movement is gearing up to support a Senate strategy. We applaud Senator Sanders [VT] for introducing S703 “the American Health Security Act,” a comprehensive single-payer bill, though not a direct companion bill to HR 676. Differences between the bills are noted in the document (here) created by Dr. Len Rodberg, PNHP.
Healthcare-NOW! recognizes that HR 676 has aspects that are preferable to S703. For example, HR 676 builds on the existing structure of Medicare, which should allow for an easier, quicker, and less expensive transition to universal single-payer. Also, the taxing structure set up in 676 is preferable–a more equitable split between employer and employee, plus the higher tax on the wealthiest 5% and the small transfer tax on stocks and bonds transfers helps to address the huge gap between the rich and working class & poor. HR 676 legislation is more inclusive of ALL residents, which emphasizes our mission of implementing a health care system that respects health as a human right.
S703 also has preferable points to HR 676. S703 stresses the need for community health centers to be fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care. It also addresses the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals.
We urge you to look over the differences and prepare to support S703 to bring single-payer into the dialogue of the Senate. In the coming months, Healthcare-NOW! and allied organizations encourage you to lobby your Representatives to continue support and cosponsorship of HR 676 as well as your Senators to cosponsor S703. There are currently no cosponsors of S703, so we challenge you to bring the first Senator on board!
The next national call-in day is April 15th. We will be sending you an announcement and sample script to contact your Senators to cosponsor S703. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, so contacting Senators serving on this committee urging support of S703 is also strategic.
Physicians for a National Health Program has submitted highlights of S703:
- Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice.
- The program is paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes amounting to less than what people now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Comprehensive benefits, including coverage for dental, mental health, and prescription drugs.
- While federally funded, the program is to be administered by the states.
- By eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private, investor-owned insurance industry, along with the burdensome paperwork imposed on physicians, hospitals and other providers, the plan saves at least $400 billion annually – enough money to provide comprehensive, quality care to all.
- Community health centers are fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care.
- To address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals.
Sanders, who serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, is a longtime advocate of fundamental health care reform. His new bill draws heavily upon the single-payer legislation introduced by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) in 1993, S. 491, and closely parallels similar legislation pending before the House, H.R. 1200, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).
There is no summary available yet, but the full text of legislation is found here.
Thanks for all you do!
Healthcare-NOW! Staff and Steering Committee