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Bernie Sanders Releases Broad Outline of Single-Payer Healthcare Plan

Laura Joszt
Just hours before Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the stage to face off against Hillary Clinton for the last Democratic presidential debate before the Iowa caucus, the senator released an outline of his single-payer healthcare plan.
Just hours before Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the stage to face off against Hillary Clinton for the last Democratic presidential debate before the Iowa caucus, the senator released his healthcare plan, Medicare for All. Sanders’ plan would move the United States to a federally administered single-payer healthcare program.

Clinton has attacked Sanders’ healthcare vision in the past, attempting to convince voters that Sanders’ plan is unrealistic and poorly constructed. In Sunday night’s debate, Clinton reiterated the attack that Sanders’ plan would undo the work of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), reported The Los Angeles Times.

However, in his 8-page plan proposal, Sanders points to the success of the ACA as a stepping stone to moving forward to achieve the goal of universal healthcare. In his proposal, he also points to the legacies of other Democratic presidents, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

“It is time for our country to join every other major industrialized nation on earth and guarantee health care to all citizens as a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders’ proposal includes only the basics of his single-payer plan, how the United States would pay for it, and what savings it would generate. The proposal touts that Sanders’ single-payer system would cover the entire continuum of healthcare, including preventive and emergency care, inpatient and outpatient care, specialty care and primary care, as well as vision, hearing, dental care, mental health, prescription medications, diagnostics, and more.

The basic concept is that by paying more in taxes, Americans will be covered by the federal healthcare program and they would just need to show their insurance card at the doctor’s office. The proposal promotes the end of copayments and deductibles.

Overall, the plan is estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year, approximately $6 trillion less than the current system over the course of 10 years. Employers would pay a 6.2% income-based healthcare premium and households would pay a 2.2% income-based premium. The Sanders administration would tax capital gains and dividends the same as income from work, and would raise marginal tax rates on income over $250,000.

Vox Editor-in-Chief Ezra Klein called Sanders’ plan “vague and unrealistic” and pointed out that increasing taxes on the rich to the scale that the senator is proposing could have real economic drawbacks.

“European countries tend to pay for their health-care systems through more broad-based, economically efficient taxes like VATs; Sanders's effort to fund a universal health-care system so heavily on the backs of the wealthy would be unprecedented,” he pointed out.

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