THE BLOG

Sanders Medicare for All: Finally a Plan to Protect Our Most Precious Gift -- Our Health

01/18/2016 04:09 pm ET | Updated Jan 18, 2016
  • Rose Ann DeMoro Executive director, National Nurses United (AFL-CIO) and California Nurses Association

Bernie Sanders' new plan for achieving the dream of countless Americans for nearly a century -- healthcare coverage for everyone -- deserves all of our thanks. And nurses will fight to make it come true.

Sen. Sanders' plan also aligns with the official position of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed single payer health care, Medicare for all.

The AFL-CIO repeated that pledge most recently again last July when its Executive Council specifically endorsed single payer as part of its national Raising Wages campaign.

Indeed, as National Nurses United has long noted, improved Medicare for all will raise real wages for American workers and income will go up for nearly everyone. And that will give consumers more resources to spend, creating a huge multiplier effect for the economy.

In his announcement, Sen. Sanders said "the typical family earning $50,000 a year would save nearly $6,000 annually in health care costs."

An NNU study in 2009, on the eve of debate over the Affordable Care Act, predicted that single payer multiplier effect would create some 2.6 million new good paying jobs alone, plus substantial increases in federal and state revenues.

And, of course, Sen. Sanders deserves huge praise for being the first leading Presidential candidate to present a plan that will guarantee healthcare for every American, just as every other major nation has done.

A plan that will end the long nightmare facing the nation's uninsured, and those having to choose between getting the care they need or putting food on the table for their families. And it protects our most precious gift, our health.

A plan to eradicate the crisis of the 29 million who are still uninsured, and the tens of millions more facing medical debt, even with the gains made under the Affordable Care Act.

A plan to cut health care costs, put money back in consumers' pockets, create jobs, and address a major cause of income inequality, un-payable medical bills.

Instead of being held hostage to a corporate system based on profits and price gouging, we can finally have a system based on patient need, with a single standard of quality care for all, regardless of ability to pay, race, gender, age, or where you live. That's a beautiful thing.

A plan that pledges to provide comprehensive coverage, inpatient and outpatient, emergency care, dental care, vision, long term care, prescription drugs, medical supplies, and other basic needs.

One medical card, no networks that limit patient choice of doctor or other provider, no fighting with insurance companies over needed care they refuse to pay for.

And, contrary to those in the Clinton camp who have claimed that Sen. Sanders wants to turn our healthcare over to state governors, many of whom have refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA, the Sanders plan would be federally administrated, with national standards and national reimbursements.

Ultimately, any single payer plan is a financing mechanism. All final details would remain to be ironed out in the legislative process, as occurred with the ACA as well.

Sen. Sanders has certainly emphasized the power of the healthcare industry lobby in Congress, and that it will take the power of a grassroots political movement that he talks about to enact this plan. Nurses will be in the forefront of that effort.

A recent New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 20 percent of people under 65 who have health insurance continue to face significant problems with medical bills, despite the ACA.

The Times report found that 63 percent of those burdened by medical bills said they had "used up all or most of their savings," 42 percent had to take on another job or work more hours, 11 percent had to move or take in roommates, and 11 percent had to turn to charity due to those bills.

Those days will come to an end when we pass the Sanders proposal.

Now we have the framework for a plan that will save lives, achieve the dreams of Americans for nearly a century for guaranteed health care, help the fight to create jobs and reduce income inequality. It's up to all of us to make that happen.

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