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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 11, 2019 1:00 am

Sanders reignites health care plan

Associated Press


Work stipulation ruling appealed

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration Wednesday appealed recent rulings in a closely watched case involving health care for the poor, after a federal judge blocked work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid.

The rulings last month by Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., blocked requirements for “able bodied” adults in Arkansas and Kentucky under which Medicaid recipients either had to work, study, volunteer or perform other “community engagement” activities.

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders launched a revamped “Medicare for All” plan Wednesday, highlighting a divide among Democrats over one of their bedrock 2020 campaign issues – the future of health care in America.

As before, the Democratic presidential candidate's signature proposal would replace job-based and individual private health insurance with a government-run plan that guarantees coverage for all with no premiums, deductibles and only minimal copays for certain services. In this latest version, Sanders added coverage for long-term care.

Republicans, meanwhile, cite Medicare for All as Exhibit A in their own 2020 narrative depicting a radicalized Democratic Party steering toward “socialism.”

Several independent studies of Medicare for All have estimated that it would dramatically increase government spending on health care, in the range of about $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over a 10-year period. But a recent estimate from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst suggests that the cost could be much lower.

Sanders and his supporters say it's a matter of principle.

“Health care is a human right, not a privilege,” declared the Vermont Independent, who is again seeking the Democratic nomination for president, as he unveiled his bill at a Capitol Hill event.

Fellow Democratic presidential candidate and co-sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also spoke, saying “this has to become the next social safety net.”

Four of Sanders' fellow senators and rivals for the Democratic nomination have signed onto the updated single-payer health care proposal. In addition to Gillibrand, they are Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Under Sanders' current plan, brand name prescription drugs would be subject to copays totaling no more than $200 annually. “It is not a radical idea to say that in the United States, every American who goes to a doctor should be able to afford the prescription drug he or she needs,” he said.

As with previous versions of the plan, Sanders did not include details on how to pay for it, offering instead some general options. Capitalizing on that, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., fired off a letter to the Congressional Budget Office requesting a detailed cost estimate of Medicare for All bills in the House and Senate.