How to Understand Bernie Sanders’ HealthCare Reform
Unlike ObamaCare, which describes healthcare reform as implemented by the 2010 law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), BernieCare describes any effort for healthcare reform made by Bernie Sanders. As such, what BernieCare means exactly changes based on Sanders’ current efforts.
With the above in mind, lets take a quick look at past healthcare reform attempts by Bernie Sanders, including his lifetime of pushing for Single Payer / Medicare-for-All, his influence on the Affordable Care Act back in 2009, and his current efforts to ensure healthcare for all via whatever reform it takes.If we want to know Bernie Sanders’ intentions, we need only listen to his own words. Here back in 1992 Sanders is fighting for single payer, in this same year First Lady Clinton and President Bill Clinton were fighting for the same thing. Today we may see differences between the entities, but when it comes to healthcare and the reality of where we stand today, things are looking pretty good. As you can see, First Lady Hillary Clinton and then President Bill Clinton fought for universal healthcare in 1992 (which turned into 1993’s HillaryCare). Bernie is currently working with Hillary on a national public option (explained here).
What is BernieCare? It is any healthcare reform Bernie Sanders fights for including Medicaid Expansion, the Public Option, Single Payer, and the ability to Negotiate Drug Prices. In all cases, the end goal is universal coverage.
- Read an overview of Bernie Sander’s Single Payer (Medicare for all) plan.
- Read American Health Security Act, S. 1782, Bernie’s 2013 plan in legislative form.
BernieCare as Medicare-For-All
First and foremost Bernie has always fought for a Medicare-For-All (a single payer solution; meaning a public fund, but not public care). That is health insurance that extends coverage to all citizens in a similar way to how Medicare expands coverage to all seniors.
This would essentially roll up Medicaid, Medicare, ACA coverage, and private coverage into a single plan. However, this version of Medicare-for-all involves getting rid of private insurance and greatly reforming the ACA, as such, it isn’t the likely next step.
This is the solution Bernie was running on as a presidential candidate, but given the outcome of the primaries it is unlikely that a single payer solution will be the next step for progressive healthcare policy in America.
This doesn’t mean its not the end goal of BernieCare, it just means its not the next likely step.Bernie sanders on Jan 17, 2016 stating his belief that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
BernieCare as a Public option
Because Medicare-for-All (AKA single payer) isn’t likely to be on the table as a matter of logistics, the next step down is called a public option.
Bernie Sanders has recently voiced support for both a national public option (a version where people can buy into Medicare) and a state-based public option (sec. 1332 plans structured on a state level, which he will likely present a template for, but can look different in each state).
So then, what is a public option? A public option is like Medicare-for-all, but instead of replacing private insurance it simply competes against it.
Sanders and many progressive Democrats (including President Obama and Hillary) supported the public option and wanted it included with the ACA. Sanders specifically stuck up for the public option, and while it wasn’t included in the ACA verbatim, an avenue for implementing it was (in no small part due to his efforts).
That avenue for a public option is sec. 1332 of the ACA which allows states to created state-based ACA alternatives starting in 2017.This video (Bernie Sanders: Public Option for Health Care [Health Care Debate 2009 (14a)] (11/18/2009)) features Bernie Sanders voicing his opinion on what he wanted to see from the ACA. At around 11:30 you’ll hear Bernie fight for “state flexibility” this idea becomes sec. 1332 of the ACA.
How You Can Join the BernieCare + ACA Healthcare Revolution
A quick look at the calendar shows us that we are all actually already a little tardy on getting our sec. 1332 plans on the ballot (aside WA and CO who both are attempting to ensure their state-based public options on the ballot).
With that said, Sanders’ current push is still first and foremost for national single payer, and if he can’t get it then a focus on a national public option, and if he can’t get that the focus is on the state-based alternatives via the 1332 plans. These steps toward healthcare-for-all are only part of BernieCare though, Bernie will surely be fighting for other reforms like drug price negotiation (in Medicare, but also on non-Medicare plans). Like the steps toward healthcare-for-all how drug negotiation work depends on the political reality we are faced with.
Remember, none of the above steps forward for healthcare are divisive proposals when it comes to progressive Democrats, this is something President Obama and Hillary Clinton and many more progressives are behind.
The fight isn’t easy, and many will stand against it.
We are stronger together, and that means BernieCare isn’t anymore about Bernie Sanders than HillaryCare was about Hillary or ObamaCare was about Obama. This is about you, the U.S. citizen paying more for healthcare than nearly any other nation on earth, this is about America being one of the only industrialized nations not to have universal healthcare, this is about not being able to negotiate drug prices, and this is about millions without access to Medicare due to states rejecting Medicaid expansion (Bernie is also fighting for Medicaid expansion and this can also be solved with a state-based waiver; See Medicaid waivers in ACA).
So, in summary, “Does it reform healthcare in a progressive direction toward universal coverage?” If the answer is yes, then Bernie Sanders will be fighting for it, and that is BernieCare. Is Hillary fighting for it too? Then its also HillaryCare. Is Obama fighting for it? Then its ObamaCare. Are the Democrats fighting for it? Then its DemocraticPartyCare. Is America fighting for it? Then its just simply United State Healthcare Reform. Get it?One last look at what Bernie Sanders is fighting for when it comes to healthcare reform. If someone who wasn’t TYT was reporting on Bernie Sanders’ recent healthcare reform push, then I wouldn’t have to end the page with a left-leaning video. Anyway, post Aetna and DOJ drama, Sanders is doubling down on a public option and single payer. And this is good. It gives America a chance to show the public market can compete with the private market, and that is a pretty centered solution that doesn’t overly rock any boats.
Obama and the public option circa 2009, pre-ACA. Both Obama and Clinton have recently re-stated support for the public option, along with Bernie Sanders. They don’t have the same exact views, but they are all fighting for the same thing, the American people.
“In my view, the provision of health care cannot continue to be dependent upon the whims and market projections of large private insurance companies whose only goal is to make as much profit as possible. That is why we need to join every other major country on earth and guarantee health care to all as a right, not a privilege. That is also why we need to pass a Medicare-for-all single-payer system. I will reintroduce legislation to do that in the next session of Congress, hopefully as part of the Democratic Senate majority.” – Bernie Sanders Tuesday August 16, 2016.
TIP: See also BERNIE SANDERS ON HEALTHCARE from FeeltheBern.org, What you should know about ‘BernieCare’ — Sanders’ proposed health overhaul from PBS, and finally Medicare-For-All from BernieSanders.com.