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Bernie Sanders on Health Care

Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)

 


For $500 more taxes, everyone gets $5,000 more healthcare

Hillary CLINTON: Last week in a CNN town hall, the Senator told a questioner that the questioner would spend about $500 dollars in taxes to get about $5,000 dollars in healthcare. Every progressive economist who has analyzed that says that the numbers don't add up, and that's a promise that cannot be kept

SANDERS: 29 million people have no health insurance today in America. We pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. One out of five Americans can't even afford the prescriptions their doctors are writing. Millions of people have high deductibles and co-payments. I don't know what economists Secretary Clinton is talking to, but what I have said, is that the family right in the middle of the economy would pay $500 dollars more in taxes, and get a reduction in their healthcare costs of $5,000 dollars. In my view healthcare is a right of all people, not a privilege, and I will fight for that.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic debate in Wisconsin , Feb 11, 2016

US is the only major country without universal health care

CLINTON: We share the goal of universal health care coverage. But I think the people deserve to know how this would work. If it's Medicare for all, then you no longer have the Affordable Care Act, because the Affordable Care Act is based on the insurance system. So if you're having single-payer, you need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process. Based on every analysis I can find, the numbers don't add up, and many people will be worse off than they are now.

SANDERS: There is one major country that does not guarantee health care to all people. There is one major country--the United States--which ends up spending almost three times per capita what they do in the U.K. guaranteeing health care to all people, 50 percent more than they do in France guaranteeing health care to all people, far more than our Canadian neighbors, who guarantee health care to all people.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic debate in Wisconsin , Feb 11, 2016

Other countries cover everyone; why can't we?

Q: Secretary Clinton, you said of Senator Sanders that "It's very hard to see how any of his proposals could ever be achievable."

CLINTON: Senator Sanders and I share big progressive goals. I've been fighting for universal healthcare for many years, and we're now on the path to achieving it. I don't want us to start over again. I want to build on the progress we've made; got from 90 percent coverage to 100 percent coverage. I don't want to rip away the security that people finally have; 18 million people now have healthcare; pre-existing conditions are no longer a barrier.

SANDERS: Let's deal with the comments that Secretary Clinton made. Every major country has managed to provide healthcare to all people and they are spending significantly less per capita than we are. I do not accept that the US can't do that. I do not accept that the US can't stand up to the rip-offs of the pharmaceutical industry which charge us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

Health care for 29 million more uninsured

CLINTON: The Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I want to improve it. Senator Sanders wants us to start all over again. This was a major achievement of President Obama. It is helping people right now. I am not going to have us plunge back into a contentious national debate that has very little chance of succeeding. Let's make the Affordable Care Act work for everybody.

SANDERS: I am on the Health Education Labor Committee. That committee wrote the Affordable Care Act. The idea I would dismantle health care while we're waiting to pass a Medicare-for-all is not accurate. The Affordable Care Act has clearly, as Secretary Clinton said, done a lot of good things, but, what it has not done is dealt with the fact we have 29 million people today who have zero health insurance, we have even more who are underinsured with large deductibles and co-payments and prescription drug prices are off the wall. So I do believe that in the future, we should have health care for all.

Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

Medicare for All: insure 29M people beyond ObamaCare

Q: You have branded your single payer health program as "Medicare for All", Why would people support your program with ongoing Medicare problems?

SANDERS: I think people will support my Medicare-for-All program because the United States today is the only major country on Earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people as a right. I think the Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good things. But yet we have 29 million people without any health insurance. There are seniors today who cannot afford the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs because in America, we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Last year, while one out of five Americans cannot afford the prescriptions their doctors write, the three major drug companies made $45 billion in profit because they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions. I believe, as a principle, everybody should be entitled to health care as a right, comprehensive health care.

Source: 2016 CNN Town Hall Democratic presidential primary debate , Jan 25, 2016

Single payer: Increased taxes offset by insurance cuts

Q: The criticism is that to pay for your single-payer healthcare, you're asking for one of the biggest tax hikes in history.

SANDERS: But that is an unfair criticism for the following reason. If you are paying now $10,000 a year to a private health insurance company and I say to you, hypothetically, you're going to pay $5,000 more in taxes, but you're not going to pay any more private health insurance, are you going to be complaining about the fact that I've saved you $5,000 in your total bills? So it's demagogic to say "oh, you're paying more in taxes." We are going to eliminate private health insurance premiums and payments not only for individuals, but for businesses, as well. We are the only country on Earth that allows private insurance companies to rip us off. We spend three times more than the British. We can do better than we're doing right now.

Q: But just to be clear, you are going to raise taxes to do this?

SANDERS: Yes, we will raise taxes, yes, we will.

Source: 2016 CNN Town Hall Democratic presidential primary debate , Jan 25, 2016

I helped write ObamaCare; extend it to 29M more uninsured

Q [to Clinton]: You said that Sen. Sanders would tear up ObamaCare and replace it. Is that fair?

CLINTON: The Democratic Party worked since Harry Truman to get the Affordable Care Act passed. I don't want see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act & improve it.

SANDERS: Her campaign was saying "Sanders wants to end Medicare." That is nonsense. I'm on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right. Now, the truth is: FDR and Truman, do you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people. What we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. My proposal: provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by $5,000.

Source: 2016 NBC Democratic debate , Jan 17, 2016

The middle class will pay less with single payer health plan

CLINTON; Senator Sanders' commitment to really changing systems: free college, a single payer system for health, and it's been estimated we're looking at 18 to $20 trillion, about a 40 percent increase in the federal budget. I have looked at his plans for health care, and it really does transfer every bit of our health care system including private health care, to the states. I think we've got to be really thoughtful about how we're going to afford what he proposed.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton is wrong. You know that the US per capita pays far more than other country. It is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer.

CLINTON: Your proposal is to go and send the health care system to the state. And my analysis is that you are going to get more taxes out of middle class families.

Source: 2015 ABC/WMUR Democratic primary debate in N.H. , Dec 19, 2015

We spend more on care than countries with single-payer

Not only are deductibles rising, 29 million still have no health insurance and millions can't afford to go to the doctor.. Why is it that the US is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people? This ties into campaign finance reform. The insurance companies, the drug companies are bribing the s Congress. We need to pass a Medicare for all single payer system. It will lower the cost of health care for a middle-class family by thousands of dollars a year.
Source: 2015 ABC/WMUR Democratic primary debate in N.H. , Dec 19, 2015

Mental health coverage would stop suicides AND homicides

All of us want to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing. There are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can't get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don't have insurance or they're too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Healthcare is a fundamental right in a civilized society

Q: If you get the nomination, the argument that you're promising health care for all and free college will be used against you; that you're just offering a bunch of free stuff. It's unrealistic. What is your reaction?

SANDERS: I happen to believe that in a democratic, civilized society, all people should be entitled to health care as a right. Is this a radical idea? No, it's not. Every other major industrialized country on Earth does the same.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 interview by Bob Schieffer , Sep 27, 2015

Medicare for all: healthcare is a human right

Bernie believes that the challenges facing the American healthcare system need to be addressed immediately--they are a matter of life and death. He has always believed that healthcare is a human right and should be guaranteed to all Americans regardless of wealth or income. He prizes the health and wellness of individuals over corporate profits. Additionally, he supports future legislation to curb drug costs and tackle fraud in the industry. Altogether, universal healthcare serves as a strong foundation for his policy goals.
Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Vaccinations work; electing not to vaccinate is dangerous

Q: What does Bernie have to say about vaccines?

A: Bernie believes that vaccinations are safe and effective, and that electing not to vaccinate is dangerous and wrong: "I think obviously vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years. I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that's wrong."

Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Voted for ObamaCare; but prefers single-payer system

On health care: Change to single-payer government-provided health care

Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but believes that the new health care law did not go far enough. Instead, he espouses a single-payer system in which the federal and state governments would provide health care to all Americans. Participating states would be required to set up their own single-payer system and a national oversight board would establish an overall budget.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Apr 30, 2015

U.S. is only major country without guaranteed healthcare

Q: You favor a single-payer health care system. But that has, in effect, fizzled in your home state. When single-payer would have meant 11.5% increase in taxes on all businesses, and a 9.55 tax hike on individuals, the Democratic governor in Vermont dropped the plan as unfeasible. They said, "we just can't afford the single-payer."

SANDERS: The U.S. remains the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all of our people. And yet we are spending almost twice as much per capita. We have a massively dysfunctional health care system. And I do believe in a Medicare-for-all single-payer system, whether a small state like Vermont can lead the nation, which I certainly hope we will, or whether it's California or some other state. At the end of the day, we need a cost-effective, high-quality health care system, guaranteeing health care to all of our people as a right.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 19, 2015

Move toward a single-payer system

It boggles the mind that approximately 30% of every health care dollar spent in the US goes to administrative costs rather than to delivering care. If our goal is to provide high-quality health care in a cost-effective way, what should we be doing? Clearly, we must move toward a single-payer system.

The health insurance lobby and other opponents of single-payer care make it sound scary. It's not. In fact, a large-scale single-payer system already exists. It's called Medicare. People enrolled in the system give it high marks. More importantly, it has succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over the age of 65.

Establishing a single-payer system will mean peace of mind for all Americans. The goal of real health care reform must be high-quality, universal coverage in a cost-effective way. We must ensure that the money we put into health coverage goes to the delivery of health care, not to paper-pushing, astronomical profits and lining CEOs' pockets.

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, BernieSanders.com , Mar 21, 2015

1972: Pushed for dental care for low-income children

In the general election of 1972, I ran for governor of VT. This time, I ended up with only 1% of the vote. However, the issues that I and other Liberty Union candidates raised during that campaign resulted in changes in public policy.

Thomas Salmon, a Democrat, very shrewdly and effectively picked up on 2 issues that the Liberty Union was fighting for: property tax reform and dental care for low-income children. Under the Salmon administration, a popular property tax rebate program was established, as well as a "tooth fairy" program which went a long way toward improving dental care for kids. Despite our paltry 1%, the Liberty Union made an impact on major legislation.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p. 18-9 , Jun 17, 1997

Civilized societies provide healthcare for the poor

I have always been a proponent of a national health care system. It just seemed eminently fair and right. How can we call this a civilized society when the children or parents of the rich get the medical attention they need in order to stay alive, while members of working-class families, who lack health insurance, have to die or needlessly suffer--or go hopelessly into debt to get the care they need? This is an outrageous injustice and it cannot be rationally defended.

The fight for a national health care system today is not basically different than the struggle for universal public education which took place in this country 100 years ago. At that time, children of the well-to-do received an education; most of the children of working people and the poor did not. After enormous struggle, our society concluded that all children, regardless of income, were entitled to at least a high school education. Some day we will also accept that all people, regardless of income, are entitled to health care.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.175-6 , Jun 17, 1997

Voted NO on the Ryan Budget: Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts.

Proponent's Arguments for voting Yes:

[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.

[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.

Opponent's Arguments for voting No:

[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.

[Sen. Merkley, D-TK]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.
Status: Failed 40-57

Reference: Ryan Budget Plan; Bill HCR34&SCR21 ; vote number 11-SV077 on May 25, 2011

Voted YES on regulating tobacco as a drug.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to provide for the regulation of tobacco products by the Secretary of Health and Human Services through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Defines a tobacco product as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption. Excludes from FDA authority the tobacco leaf and tobacco farms.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.

Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.

Reference: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Bill HR1256&S982 ; vote number 2009-S207 on Jun 11, 2009

Voted YES on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.

Reference: SCHIP Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.2 ; vote number 2009-S031 on Jan 29, 2009

Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.

Congressional Summary:Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Reference: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act; Bill HR.6331 ; vote number 2008-S177 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted NO on means-testing to determine Medicare Part D premium.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to pay a greater share of their Medicare Part D premiums.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES: Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.

Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.

Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4240 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S063 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on allowing tribal Indians to opt out of federal healthcare.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:
    TRIBAL MEMBER CHOICE PROGRAM: Members of federally-recognized Indian Tribes shall be provided the opportunity to voluntarily enroll, with a risk-adjusted subsidy for the purchase of qualified health insurance in order to--
  1. improve Indian access to high quality health care services;
  2. provide incentives to Indian patients to seek preventive health care services;
  3. create opportunities for Indians to participate in the health care decision process;
  4. encourage effective use of health care services by Indians; and
  5. allow Indians to make health care coverage & delivery decisions & choices.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. COBURN: The underlying legislation, S.1200, does not fix the underlying problems with tribal healthcare. It does not fix rationing. It does not fix waiting lines. It does not fix the inferior quality that is being applied to a lot of Native Americans and Alaskans in this country. It does not fix any of those problems. In fact, it authorizes more services without making sure the money is there to follow it.

Those who say a failure to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a violation of our trust obligations are correct. However, I believe simply reauthorizing this system with minor modifications is an even greater violation of that commitment.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. DORGAN: It is not more money necessarily that is only going to solve the problem. But I guarantee you that less money will not solve the problem. If you add another program for other Indians who can go somewhere else and be able to present a card, they have now taken money out of the system and purchased their own insurance--then those who live on the reservation with the current Indian Health Service clinic there has less money. How does that work to help the folks who are stranded with no competition?

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 28-67

Reference: Tribal Member Choice Program; Bill SA.4034 to SA.3899 to S.1200 ; vote number 08-S025 on Feb 14, 2008

Voted YES on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility.

Allows State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), that require state legislation to meet additional requirements imposed by this Act, additional time to make required plan changes. Pres. Bush vetoed this bill on Dec. 12, 2007, as well as a version (HR976) from Feb. 2007.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults.
  2. It targets bonus payments only to States that increase enrollments of the poorest uninsured children, and it prohibits States from covering families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:

Veto message from President Bush:

Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.

Reference: Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R. 3963 ; vote number 2007-403 on Nov 1, 2007

Voted YES on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 55-42 (3/5ths required)

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill S.3 & H.R.4 ; vote number 2007-132 on Apr 18, 2007

Voted NO on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.

Vote to pass a resolution, agreeing to S. AMDT. 2691 that removes the following provisions from S 1932:
Reference: Reconciliation resolution on the FY06 budget; Bill H Res 653 on S. AMDT. 2691 ; vote number 2006-004 on Feb 1, 2006

Voted NO on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages.

Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill; Bill HR 4280 ; vote number 2004-166 on May 12, 2004

Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.

Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR.1 ; vote number 2003-669 on Nov 22, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN; Bill HR.2427 ; vote number 2003-445 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted NO on small business associations for buying health insurance.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act; Bill HR 660 ; vote number 2003-296 on Jun 19, 2003

Voted NO on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits.

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA; Bill HR 5 ; vote number 2003-64 on Mar 13, 2003

Voted NO on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563 ; vote number 2001-329 on Aug 2, 2001

Voted NO on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage.

HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 4680 ; vote number 2000-357 on Jun 28, 2000

Voted NO on banning physician-assisted suicide.

Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 2260 ; vote number 1999-544 on Oct 27, 1999

Voted NO on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.

The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO; Bill HR 2990 ; vote number 1999-485 on Oct 6, 1999

MEDS Plan: Cover senior Rx under Medicare.

Sanders adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

Summary of the Medicare Extention of Drugs To Seniors Act (Meds)

MEDS establishes an 80/20 outpatient prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D that will be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration. The plan will cost similar to figures for the Bush prescription drug plan due to this plan’s emphasis on lowering the price of pharmaceuticals.

Premiums and Low-income Assistance:

Premiums would be $24/month in the first year and indexed to a pharmaceutical Sustainable Growth Rate, which will ensure that premiums or drug costs do not increase arbitrarily.

Employer Incentive Program:

Employers providing drug coverage equal to or better than the Medicare coverage receive an incentive payment to maintain such coverage.
Source: CPC Press Release, MEDS Plan 01-CPC3 on Jan 31, 2001

Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Sanders scores 100% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Improve services for people with autism & their families.

Sanders co-sponsored improving services for people with autism & their families

Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:

  1. convene, on behalf of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Treatments, Interventions, and Services Evaluation Task Force to evaluate evidence-based biomedical and behavioral treatments and services for individuals with autism;
  2. establish a multi-year demonstration grant program for states to provide evidence-based autism treatments, interventions, and services.
  3. establish planning and demonstration grant programs for adults with autism;
  4. award grants to states for access to autism services following diagnosis;
  5. award grants to University Centers of Excellence for Developmental Disabilities to provide services and address the unmet needs of individuals with autism and their families;
  6. make grants to protection and advocacy systems to address the needs of individuals with autism and other emerging populations of individuals with disabilities; and
  7. award a grant to a national nonprofit organization for the establishment and maintenance of a national technical assistance center for autism services and information dissemination.
  8. Directs the Comptroller General to issue a report on the financing of autism services and treatments.
Source: Promise for Individuals With Autism Act (S.937 & HR.1881) 07-HR1881 on Apr 17, 2007

Establish a national childhood cancer database.

Sanders co-sponsored establishing a national childhood cancer database

Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.

    Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to childhood cancer professional and direct service organizations for the expansion and widespread implementation of:
  1. activities that provide information on treatment protocols to ensure early access to the best available therapies and clinical trials for pediatric cancers;
  2. activities that provide available information on the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment to ensure access to necessary long-term medical and psychological care; and
  3. direct resource services such as educational outreach for parents, information on school reentry and postsecondary education, and resource directories or referral services for financial assistance, psychological counseling, and other support services.
Legislative Outcome: House version H.R.1553; became Public Law 110-285 on 7/29/2008.
Source: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (S911/HR1553) 07-S911 on Mar 19, 2007

Increase funding for occupational & physical therapy.

Sanders signed Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (MARS)

Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2011 - Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to repeal the cap on outpatient physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy services of the type furnished by a physician or as an incident to physicians' services.

SEC. 2. OUTPATIENT THERAPY CAP REPEAL.

Section 1833 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(l)) is amended by striking subsection (g).

[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com "Therapy Cap"]:

In 1997 Congress established per-person Medicare spending limits, or "therapy cap" for nonhospital outpatient therapy, but responding to concerns that some people with Medicare need extensive services, it has since placed temporary moratoriums on the caps. The therapy cap is a combined $1,810 Medicare cap for physical therapy and speech language pathology, and a separate $1,810 cap for occupational therapy ($1870 for 2011). Medicare patients requiring rehabilitation from disabilities, car accidents, hip injuries, stroke, and other ailments would be limited to roughly two months worth of treatments at an outpatient therapy clinic. Any patients that exceed the cap, whether they are healed or not, would have to stop therapy, or pay for the therapy services out of their own pocket.Several medical associations have lobbied against therapy caps because the bill inadvertently restricted disabled seniors, stroke patients, and other severe cases from receiving therapy treatments.

Source: HR.1546&S829 11-S0829 on Apr 14, 2011

Preserve access to Medicaid & SCHIP during economic downturn.

Sanders co-sponsored preserving access to Medicaid & SCHIP in economic downturn

A bill to preserve access to Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program during an economic downturn.

Source: Economic Recovery in Health Care Act (S.2819) 2008-S2819 on Apr 7, 2008

Provide for treatment of autism under TRICARE.

Sanders signed bill providing for autism treatment under TRICARE

A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of autism under TRICARE. Revises TRICARE (a Department of Defense [DOD] managed health care program) to authorize treatment of autism spectrum disorders, if a health care professional determines that such treatment is medically necessary.

Source: S.1169&HR.1600 2009-S1169 on Jun 3, 2009

Sponsored bill expanding the National Health Service Corps.

Sanders sponsored Access for All America Act

    A bill to achieve access to comprehensive primary health care services for all Americans and to reform the organization of primary care delivery through an expansion of the Community Health Center and National Health Service Corps programs. Amends the Public Health Service Act to:
  1. increase and extend the authorization of appropriations for community health centers and for the National Health Service Corps scholarship and loan repayment program for FY2010-FY2015, and provide for increased funding for such programs in FY2016 and each subsequent fiscal year; and
  2. revise and expand provisions allowing a community health center to provide services at different locations, adjust its operating plan and budget, enter into arrangements with other centers to purchase supplies and services at reduced cost, and correct material failures in grant compliance.
Source: S.486&HR1296 2009-S486 on Mar 4, 2009

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Sanders co-sponsored the Birth Defects Prevention Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1114. Became Public Law No: 105-168.
Source: Bill sponsored by 35 Senators and 164 Reps 97-S419 on Mar 11, 1997

Make health care a right, not a privilege.

Sanders adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

    The Progressive Caucus is united in its goal of making health care a right, not a privilege. Every person should have access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care. We must use our health care dollars efficiently and ensure public accountability in all medical decisions. Based on this goal, we support the following principles:
  1. All Americans, including the 44 million currently without health insurance, deserve to have the health care they need, regardless of ability to pay.
  2. Medicare must remain solvent and available for the millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on the program. The Progressive Caucus supports expanding the program to cover prescription drugs and other needed products and services for beneficiaries. We support a Medicare buy-in for individuals age 55 and older. We support lowering out-of-pocket costs for seniors who currently pay, on average, 20% of their income for health care.
  3. Proposals should be rejected to change traditional Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution or voucher system.
  4. Balanced Budget Act cuts that are negatively affecting patient access to hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies must be restored.
  5. Medicaid must have the resources to continue to provide coverage and care for low-income individuals, including children in the CHIP program.
  6. Individuals with disabilities should retain their health benefits when they return to work and to have access to rehabilitative and other needed services.
  7. Funding and outreach and other programs serving low-income Americans should be expanded. Examples of such programs are the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualified Individuals programs; transitional funds for Medicaid recipients who are also welfare-to-work recipients; and for HHS for mental health outreach for the elderly.
Source: CPC Position Paper: Health Care 99-CPC2 on Nov 11, 1999

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