Challenging head-on the powerful private insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer health reform bill, the American Health Security Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate Wednesday. The bill is the first to directly take on the powerful lobbies blocking universal health reform in the Senate since Sen. Paul Wellstone’s tragic
death("assassination." Emphasis supplied. Ed.).
Highlights of the bill include the following:
* 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.
A single-payer bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), H.R. 676, obtained 93 co-sponsors in the House during the last session. It has been reintroduced in the new Congress as the U.S. National Health Care Act with the same bill number.
A copy of the bill is available here. (PDF)
Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006
Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996, firstname.lastname@example.org