U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders will likely soon make history when — for the first time ever — he brings a bill creating a national single-payer health care system to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
Sander's bill, many, including many physicians believe, is simply too good and too simple to pass.
The bottom line: A well monied private insurance industry has too much clout in the halls of congress to allow us the best possible health care system we could have.
"That bill will lose," Sanders said last week, referring to the bill he will introduce. "The question, however, will be how much support it will get."
Introduced in the early spring, Sanders' American Health Security Act of 2009 would eliminate the role of private insurance companies in health care and create a public fund that would insure all residents of the United States.
Sanders said his bill would insure the 46 million Americans without coverage and could save upwards of $400 million annually by eliminating insurance overhead and medical bureaucracy.
That's $400 million annually!
The system would be paid for through existing sources of government health care spending along with some tax increases, which advocates say would be less than what people pay now in co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.
Sanders' bill has received little attention in Washington political circles. There has never been a vote on a single-payer health care system in either the U.S. Senate or the House, according to Mark Almberg, communications director for the organization Physicians for a National Health Program.
Knowing that his single-payer bill is likely to fail, Sanders said he also plans to try including a provision in the final health-care bill that would allow states such as Vermont to experiment with a single-payer system on a state level.