Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced Medicare for All legislation that would virtually eliminate the private insurance industry and provide comprehensive healthcare to every American at a lower overall cost than the current for-profit system.
"Today we say to the private health insurance companies, whether they like it or not, the United States will join every other major country on earth and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right," the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender wrote in an email to supporters.
"All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital," Sanders added. "If we are serious about providing high-quality and affordable healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country, the only real solution is a Medicare for All, single-payer system that provides healthcare to all Americans."
Sanders pointed to the exorbitant real-world costs of the current for-profit healthcare system when asked about the price-tag of his bill in a CBS interview that aired Wednesday morning.
"What's expensive and what's unsustainable is the current healthcare system," Sanders said. "We are spending twice as much per capita as any other nation."
In the richest country in the world, when you are sick, you should be able to see a doctor. If your child needs to go to the hospital, you should not end up in bankruptcy. That is not a radical idea. It is an issue of basic justice. #MedicareForAll
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 10, 2019
More than a dozen Democratic senators signed on as original co-sponsors of Sanders' legislation, including presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (Calif.).
"Healthcare is a basic human right, and we fight for basic human rights," Warren tweeted Wednesday. "I'm happy to once again co-sponsor Medicare for All with Sen. Sanders."
Watch Sanders officially unveil his Medicare for All bill during an event on Capitol Hill:
Over 60 progressive organizations representing nurses, doctors, teachers, and consumer advocates endorsed Sanders' bill, according to the senator's office.
"The Affordable Care Act has taught us that merely tinkering around the edges of our broken healthcare system will only perpetuate its problems: skyrocketing costs, falling health outcomes, medical bankruptcy, and needless death," Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said in a statement.
"It's time to eliminate the greed and waste of private health insurance and move to a Medicare for All system that puts patients ahead of profits," Gaffney added.
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, hailed Sanders' legislation as "the most visionary, comprehensive universal healthcare bill ever introduced in the U.S. Senate."
"This bill would greatly benefit all Americans, especially current Medicare beneficiaries, who would receive better care at a lower cost. It adds dental, vision, hearing, and long-term care services to the current program while eliminating all premiums, deductibles, and co-pays," Lawson said in a statement. "It's long past time to get the for-profit insurance industry, whose business model depends on denying care to people who need it, out of healthcare. Today's bill introduction is a huge step in the right direction."