Courtesy Sanders campaign
Courtesy Sanders campaign

Washington – Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy split on Wednesday over Sen. Bernie Sanders’s long-awaited “Medicare for All” bill.

Blumenthal was one of 14 co-sponsors of Sanders’s bill, all Democrats, while Murphy supports other proposals that would overhaul the nation’s health care system – all plans that do not eliminate the role of health insurers.

Sanders, who is running for the White House, blasted the nation’s health insurers when he rolled out his plan Wednesday

“In my view, the current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with health care,” Sanders said. “It’s all about greed and profiteering. It is about whether we maintain a dysfunctional system which allows the top five health insurance companies to make over $20 billion in profits last year.”

The Sanders bill would create a single, government-run health plan to provide coverage to all Americans, much like traditional Medicare provides coverage to those 65 and older.

But the Sanders plan would be more generous than traditional Medicare, with patients paying nothing out of pocket when they visit a doctor.

The plan would also cover hospital visits, primary care, medical devices, lab services, maternity care, and prescription drugs as well as vision and dental benefits. Americans would have four years to transition from their current health plans, be they private plans or Medicare or Medicaid. The only alternatives to Medicare for All would be the veteran’s health care system and the Indian Health system.

Sander’s ambitious bill has been criticized as being vague on how Medicare for All might be paid for.

Sanders released a list of financing options, such as a new tax on “extreme wealth.” But the taxes on nearly all Americans would likely increase to pay for the plan.

While Blumenthal and some of Sanders’s Democratic rivals – Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – are co-sponsors of the Sanders plan, Murphy and other Democrats support more conservative options to expand health care coverage.

Murphy has sponsored a Medicare buy-in plan that gives people who qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies the option to purchase a new Medicare “Part E” plan. That Medicare component would use the same network of doctors and hospitals who now serve Medicare patients, but would include other non-elderly medical services, including pediatrics and maternity.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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11 Comments

  1. None of these ideas should be considered if they lack a realistic financial plan to pay for the overall solution. In the private sector if a business has unrealistic plan it is dismissed and if it is not it usually ends with someone being fired if it costs too much.

    Why are politicians allowed to lie to the American people? It is false advertising. As Mr. Gruber (the architect of Obamacare or the ACA) said about the bill – it was deliberately written in a tortured way to disguise the fact that it creates a system by which healthy people pay in and sick people get money. This obfuscation is needed due to “the stupidity of the American voter” in ensuring the bill’s passage. The bill’s inherent “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” in selling it.

    Have we learned nothing?

    1. and you think the current system is ‘sustainable’? Wealth inequality is causing capitalism to founder. One wasy to reduce this huge inequality is health care-

      1. There is no such thing as “wealth equality” – well, I correct myself – Venezuela has it – everyone is poor. The US has equal opportunity , not equal outcomes.

        The issue with our healthcare system is that there is no cost transparency. No one knows what a specific procedure costs. There are multiple prices for it, but until the actual cost of a procedure or service is transparent to the public, there can be no competition.

  2. There is nothing illogical or impractical about a society taking measures to ensure the functionality of its members, with respect to assured healthcare for all. A society cannot function efficiently if a significant proportion its members develop untreated, chronic health problems, or are forced to weather health crises sans professional intervention. The ripple effects of such a situation show up as many dysfunctional manifestations in the workplace, in overburdened, under-funded, healthcare institutions, as family dysfunction (with all of the implicit aspects thereof, e.g. in the schools…), as self-medication/drug and alcohol addiction (especially in the context of unaddressed/untreated mental illness — with all of the associated manifestations of crime, etc., thereof…).
    Certain aspects of socialism are a necessary part of maintaining a functional, civilized, productive society. Healthcare is chief among the necessary applications of socialism by which a “civilized” society/”civilization” is maintained. Without healthcare for all, societies and give up economic ground in the face of the variety of health epidemics that drag-down commerce and industry and devour large portions of local, state, and the national budget… (For instance, untreated drug-addiction/mental-illness self-medication costs states about 13% of their budgets, per recent studies undertaken by the Center for Addiction Studies at Columbia University…)
    Senator Blumenthal chose the correct/indicated side of the socialized-medicine issue. He chose the side that will create a stronger America — the side that the vast majority of Americans support.
    Murphy chose stupidly, pandering to the very sparsely populated “centrist,” “moderate Democrat” region of this political space. (His protégé, Rep. Jahana Hayes, will surely break with him on this issue…). Murphy exposed himself as being just another “politician,” with his stance on this issue, whereas, Richard Blumenthal, showed both statesmanship and political smarts in this regard… (Murphy’s term will pass faster than he thinks, and Connecticut, and most of the rest of the country, won’t forget his lack of courage and compassion on this issue in 2024 — especially if he decides that he wants to be President Murphy…).
    So; kudos to Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal, et al., on their enlightened stance on healthcare!… (Nothing worth saying about Murphy, in tis regard…)

    1. Murphy must get a lot from the health insurance companies in money- time to pass on him and look for a more progressive candidate in the future.

  3. Medicare for All is something long overdue and I applaud one of our Senators for not bending to the will of private insurers. Insurance companies, who have skimmed money passing between patients and health care providers have served as judge, jury and in some cases executioner while rationing care to helpless Americans. Those who bring up the cost have failed to read even one study as to how the program would be funded and call to have the discussion shut down. In no way should these hypocrites be tolerated for they never ask how another war will be paid for or how corporate subsidies will be funded. In those moments we see them for what they are, shills for an industry that denies their own neighbors, their own brothers and sisters the right to live as so many people in other nations whose life expectancy are longer than our own. We pay more than anyone on planet earth for healthcare and we don’t fall in the top ten …or top twenty…or even the top thirty when it comes to life expectancy. Human life is more important than providing insurance executives with the lifestyles of Greek tycoons. No more compromise.

    1. Incrementalism’ did not work with the unfolding climate crises,and Murphy’s cowardly choice here is pathetic. Time to look for a progressive to challenge him in the future.

  4. Considering Sen. Murphy’s past practices, I expect his announced lack of support for Government Healthcare is just more of the same.

    When then-Representative Murphy worked on the ‘pass it to find out what’s in it’ Ocare bill, it was a program designed to fail and lead to Government Healthcare. His efforts regarding gun control are geared towards the eventual eradication of the Second Amendment. He has slipped at least twice that I remember and stated he was for the banning of ALL semi-automatic firearms–which represents a large majority of them.

    Now Sen Murphy is advocating for another incremental government program. His House hero, Speaker Pelosi, even stated that Ocare wasn’t what she really wanted to end up with but that it was ‘the best they do for now.’ Can any reasonable person honestly state that this isn’t just more of the same?

    Fully lay out your program, tell us exactly how it will be paid for, administered and protected and then we can decide. Knowing people who have dealt with three different Service Academy Medical Units and others through the VA, I think I’ll keep the private system care I have.

    1. GLAD you are in the upper 10% where you can afford your ‘private insurance’ 90% of Americans cannot.

      1. Hardly in the 10%; we’re actually middle middle class, especially for CT.

        I used the term ‘private’ simply to differentiate between through an employer and the Ocare system. Our cost still got jacked up with Ocare requirements but keeping it allowed me to keep ALL of my Doctors, even if not my exact plan, whereas Ocare would not.

  5. The Medicare Hospital Trust fund is estimated to be insolvent in 2029. Per the U.S. National Debt clock, our Government has $30 Trillion (with a T) worth of unfunded Medicare liabilities, or promises to future Medicare recipients without the current funds to cover them. Our national debt, at $22 Trillion, is growing at about $1 Trillion per year. because we overspend our $3.2 Trillion Federal budget by that much. Lets not forget also that the insolvency of the current Medicare program includes funding by a) current payroll deductions of workers/employers of 2.9% of their paychecks (more for the wealthy per Obamacare) as well as b) a $135/month recipient fee for Part B and other fees paid by recipients for Advantage or Medigap/Prescriptions and other costs.

    Against this financial backdrop, Socialists like Bernie, AOC, Elizabeth Warren, and others want to expand the Medicare program for all because, as we know, the Government has had such massive financial/program successes with its current medical programs: Medicare (see debt clock), Medicaid, and the VA programs, not to mention Obamacare. They wish to take over the means of production for 1/6 of our economy and push the evil private sector out of the way so that we can enjoy our Constitutional right of free healthcare. This is just one of the freebies that they espouse to buy votes from the electorate (free tuition anyone?). Unfortunately, these ideas appear to be taking root in this country.

    I freely admit that health care is a broken system- hopelessly complex, unaffordable for many, inaccessible for some, and fraught with problems. I also believe, however, that a massive Government solution to this program is merely another empty promise by ignorant politicians who are leading this country into certain financial ruin. Follow them off the cliff at your peril.

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