*What a difference four years, and a Trump presidency makes.
Nearly four years after Bernie Sanders stood alone to introduce a Medicare for All health care bill in 2013, the Independent Senator from Vermont will introduce the same bill today, this time with nearly a third of the Senate Democratic caucus by his side, reports CNN.
Sanders’ plan, likely dead-on-arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress, will propose a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system by moving the entire country to a government-run, single-payer program.
Under Sanders’ proposal, Americans would receive a “Universal Medicare card” that would be a ticket to comprehensive health care services, including hospital stays, doctor visits, substance abuse treatment, dental, vision and reproductive care — including abortion.
However, users may have to pay up to $250 out-of-pocket for prescription drugs, with incentives to use generic medications. Sanders, who’s been vocal about lowering drug prices, would allow the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.
Long-term care is not be covered in the new bill, but will be addressed in separate legislation, an adviser to Sanders told CNN.
The new bill calls for the elimination of premiums for private health insurance, deductibles and co-pays. However, most Americans and businesses will pay what Sanders says is a much smaller share of their income to fund the program.
The CBO has yet to score the new legislation, but the program Sanders pitched on the campaign trail estimated an annual price tag of nearly $1.4 trillion, to be paid for in part by a proposed new 2.2% income tax on all Americans, a 6.2% levy on employers and a further round of tax hikes on the wealthy.
Sanders’ plan also addresses how to phase out the current system, which depends primarily on employer-sponsored private plans, without creating a disruption in care. The answer, according to this new version of the bill, is to roll it out over a four-year transition period, a process that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her office took a big hand in crafting.
The law would pad Medicare with dental, vision and hearing aid coverage — in its first year, while reducing the eligibility age to 55. Children, up to age 18, would also be offered immediate access to the government-run plan. Over the next two years, the Medicare age would drop to 45, then 35 years old. By the fourth year, everyone would be eligible.
The legislation is scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday afternoon in Washington along with a number of Democratic officeholders poised to run for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.
California Sen. Kamala Harris was the first to announce plans to cosponsor the bill, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Gillibrand made their plans public on Monday and Tuesday.