Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he plans to soon introduce legislation for a nationwide single-payer system of healthcare coverage in the U.S., similar to Medicare, the government's insurance program for the elderly and the disabled. He is hoping to gain bipartisan support for his bill in the wake of the Republicans' botched effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
"Short term, this is what we can do," Sanders said March 26 during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.
"Where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right," said Sanders, who introduced similar "Medicare-for-all" single-payer legislation in May 2011.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., plans to introduce a companion bill in the House. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in January sponsored a similar piece of legislation in that chamber.
At the very least, Americans should have the opportunity for a public option — a federally run plan that would compete with private insurers — and Medicare's age eligibility requirement should be lowered from 65 years to 55, Sanders said on CNN.
The House Republicans' bill, the American Health Care Act, which was dropped just minutes before it was to be voted on March 24 because of a lack of consensus among the party members, "should have been defeated," the Vermont senator said.
"It was a disastrous piece of legislation primarily designed to provide $300 billion in tax breaks to the top 2%, throwing 24 million people off of health insurance, raising premiums for older workers in a very, very significant way," Sanders said, citing a report from the Congressional Budget Office, which provides nonpartisan financial analyses to Congress.
"The American people wanted it defeated," said Sanders, whose claims were backed up by an independent poll from Quinnipiac University, which found that only 17% of respondents backed the House Republican bill.
Sanders also urged President Donald Trump to endorse the lawmaker's legislation to allow imports of prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized nations.
"President Trump, come on board. Let's work together. Let's end the absurdity of Americans paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs," Sanders said.
He made similar pronouncements about his Medicare-for-all and importation bills March 24 during an appearance on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes.
"We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies, the drug companies and move forward to a Medicare-for-all single-payer program, and I will be introducing legislation shortly to do that," Sanders said.