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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:00 am

Sanders lays out health care plan

'International disgrace' that all are not insured

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – In an animated, campaign-style rally, Sen. Bernie Sanders unwrapped his plan to remake the nation's convoluted health care system into federally run health insurance Wednesday – a costly proposal embraced by liberal activists hoping to steer the Democratic Party in upcoming elections.

The Vermont independent's plan would hand government a dominant role in insuring Americans, a crucial step, he said, in guaranteeing health care for all.

U.S. Census Bureau data released this week showed the proportion of people lacking policies falling to 8.8 percent last year under “Obamacare,” the lowest level ever recorded, but he called it an “international disgrace” that not all Americans have coverage.

Though Sanders' plan is going nowhere in the current GOP-controlled Congress, he drew a big crowd to a packed and electrified Senate hearing room.

Obama's overhaul boosted federal spending and set coverage requirements but left much of the existing private system in place. About 156 million people get policies at work, about half of all those insured, with most of the rest getting coverage through Medicare or Medicaid or by buying individual plans.

Sanders provided no details about the price tag of his measure or how it would be financed. Aides have said it would likely rely largely on income-adjusted premiums people would pay the government, ranging from zero for the poorest Americans to high levies on the rich and corporations.

People would no longer owe monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket costs like copayments, and companies would not have to offer coverage to workers. Sanders says most people and employers would save money.

The version he introduced during his 2016 presidential run was supposed to cost an enormous $1.4 trillion annually.

His plan would surpass Obama's law in covering a long list of services, including dental, vision, hospital, doctors and mental health costs. Copayments would be allowed for prescription drugs.

Many Democrats from politically competitive states have shied away from Sanders' plan, aware that Republicans are ready to cast it as a huge tax hike and government-run health care.