Merkley signs onto Sanders' Medicare for All bill

PORTLAND, Ore. -- U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley announced today that he is signing onto Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, which is expected to be filed Wednesday.

“Health care should be a right for every single American, not a privilege reserved for the healthy and the wealthy,” Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement.

“Right now, our health care system is incredibly complex, fragmented and stressful. It would be terrific to have a simple, seamless system where, solely by virtue of living in America, you know that you will get the care you need.”

In announcing he'd be one of the bill's cosponsors, Merkley called for simplifying the “fragmented health care system.”

“We’ve made tremendous strides in expanding access to health care across our nation, but many Americans still are rightfully frustrated by the cost and complexity of our current system. It’s time to simplify health care and lower patients’ costs, and embrace Medicare for All.”

With a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, however, the chances of the bill passing are fairly slim.

Since Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this summer failed, the focus in D.C. has turned to stabilizing the individual market. Sen. Lamar Alexander said last week that he hoped to reach a consensus on a “small, bipartisan stabilization bill.”

Still, single-payer is gaining traction among Democrats. Sanders, a Vermont Independent, made the issue a cornerstone of his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. His plan would have built on the Medicare program and separate health insurance from employment.

Merkley supported both Sanders and the concept and others are signing on as well. Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, announced she would back the bill, The Hill reported.

Merkley, by the way, headlined the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in downtown Des Moines this past weekend, pitching “unapologetically progressive policies on health care, education and infrastructure” and spurring speculation about possible presidential aspirations, the Des Moines Register reported.

Elizabeth covers health care for the Portland Business Journal. Sign up for her free email to keep tabs on the rapidly changing industry.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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