KHN Morning Briefing

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Sanders Releases Single-Payer Proposal: ‘Health Care In America Must Be A Right, Not A Privilege’

Sixteen Democratic senators support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as he releases the new bill, throwing their weight behind an idea that's gaining traction with progressive voters.

The Associated Press: Sanders Would Make Government Health Care Role Even Bigger
In an animated, campaign-style rally, Sen. Bernie Sanders unwrapped his plan to remake the nation's convoluted health care system into federally run health insurance Wednesday — a costly proposal embraced by liberal activists hoping to steer the Democratic Party in upcoming elections. The Vermont independent's plan would hand government a dominant role in insuring Americans, a crucial step, he said, in guaranteeing health care for all. Census Bureau data this week showed the proportion of people lacking policies falling to 8.8 percent last year under "Obamacare," the lowest level ever recorded, but he called it an "international disgrace" that not all Americans have coverage. (Fram, 9/13)

Politico: Sanders Lays Down Marker With Ambitious Single-Payer Bid
The plan wouldn't completely wipe out private health insurance, but it would drastically shrink a system that currently covers more than 170 million Americans through their employers or on the individual market. Under Sanders' vision, health insurers would likely be relegated to covering elective procedures not covered by the government. "The average American family will be much better off financially than under the current system because you will no longer be writing checks to private insurance companies," Sanders said. (Cancryn, 9/13)

The Washington Post: Sanders Introduces Universal Health Care
“This is where the country has got to go,” Sanders said in an interview at his Senate office. “Right now, if we want to move away from a dysfunctional, wasteful, bureaucratic system into a rational health-care system that guarantees coverage to everyone in a cost-effective way, the only way to do it is Medicare for All.” Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018. (Weigel, 9/13)

Los Angeles Times: Turning Aside Risk, Democrats Rally To Bernie Sanders' Single-Payer Health Plan
In the days before Sanders’ announcement, Democrats as ideologically diverse as liberal Sen. Kamala Harris of California and conservative Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia expressed support for his effort. Their statements reflect a significant shift within the Democratic party, driven by multiple developments: a belief that the window has closed on Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare; a surge in support for government-run insurance among younger, more activist Democrats; and looming 2018 and 2020 contests that demand clarity on what Democrats support — not just whom they oppose. (Decker, 9/13)

San Francisco Chronicle: Bernie Sanders Kicks Off Medicare For All Proposal; Harris, More On Board
With California Sen. Kamala Harris and a handful of other liberal senators often viewed as the Democratic Party’s next generation of leaders lined up in support, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a plan Wednesday for a government-run health care system he called Medicare for All. The proposal, which Sanders, independent-Vt., introduced to a packed audience in the Senate’s largest hearing room, comes as several Senate Republicans are attempting to revive their party’s floundering effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a new plan that would provide states with lump sums of federal money to provide health care. (Lochhead, 9/13)

Bloomberg: Sanders Offers Medicare-For-All Plan Backed By 16 Senate Democrats
Several Democrats, including some of Sanders’s co-sponsors, made it clear that they see the bill as one of many options toward improving the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. “The principle that I support is universal, accessible, affordable quality health care for all, and I think the single-payer system is a strong articulation of the principle,” said Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, a co-sponsor of the bill. (John, 9/13)

Concord (N.H.) Monitor: Shaheen, Hassan Split On Single-Payer Health Care
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen threw her support behind an expansive plan for single-payer health insurance set to be introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders – the only member of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to do so. In a statement Tuesday, Shaheen announced that she would support the proposed bill, known as the Medicare for All Act of 2017, which would expand insurance coverage under the present Medicare plan to all Americans, creating a single government-run plan. New Hampshire’s other senator, Democrat Maggie Hassan, released her own statement declining to support Sanders’s plan, saying she would rather focus on improving the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. (DeWitt, 9/13)

Boston Globe: Democrats Split Over Bernie Sanders’ Single-Payer Health Care Plan
But while support for so-called single-payer insurance has grown significantly since Sanders made the issue a bedrock of his 2016 presidential campaign, the glitzy names of top-level supporters — many of whom are prospective Democratic candidates for president in 2020 — mask a real divide among rank-and-file Democrats nationwide. As the 2018 midterm elections loom, and Democrats aim to reestablish control of Congress by winning tough seats in conservative-leaning districts, many are questioning whether a gargantuan government takeover of the health care system, and the required higher taxes to pay for it, is the right policy for an already wounded Democratic Party. (Herndon, 9/13)

The Associated Press Fact Check: Single-Payer Sounds Best When It Sounds Free
Americans are not clamoring for single-payer health care, as Sen. Bernie Sanders suggests they are, in proposing a plan that would have the government foot most medical bills. He's right that support for the idea has grown and in some polls tops 50 percent. But polls suggest that the prevailing sentiment is ambivalence. Saving money on health insurance holds lots of appeal. Seeing taxes rise to cover those costs may dull the appetite. (Woodward and Swanson, 9/14)

The Hill: White House Rips Sanders's 'Horrible' Single-Payer Plan 
The White House on Wednesday slammed the push by Senate Democrats for a single-payer health-care plan at the same time Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced his proposal, calling the plan "horrible." "The president as well as the majority of the country know the single-payer system the Democrats are proposing is a horrible idea," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the daily briefing. (Kamisar, 9/13)

The Hill: Insurers Rail Against Sanders Health-Care Plan 
The main insurer trade group issued a strongly worded statement against “Medicare for all” ahead of the release of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) single-payer health-care plan. “Whether it’s called single-payer or Medicare For All, government-controlled health care cannot work,” David Merritt, executive vice president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement Wednesday. (Roubein, 9/13)

The Hill: Sanders Enjoys Big Moment With Single-Payer Unveiling
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled his single-payer health-care plan in a jam-packed Senate hearing room on Wednesday and to millions more watching online and on cable television, highlighting his newfound status as a Capitol Hill power player. ... In 2013, no one co-sponsored a similar Sanders single-payer bill, and in 2015, when he announced his long-shot presidential bid, a relatively small group of reporters showed up to a park outside the Capitol. At his hourlong announcement on Wednesday, Sanders spoke to a crowd of about 300, and at times shared the stage with other Democratic stars — and potential rivals if he decides to make another White House run in 2020. (Roubein and Hellmann, 9/13)

Roll Call: Bernie Sanders, The Man With Single-Payer Clout
[Sanders' plan] also provided a welcome talking point for Republicans who have long railed against government-run health care. Several GOP senators used Sanders’ legislation as a tool to warn voters of what could come if Republicans are unable to overhaul the health care system. (Williams, 9/14)

The Hill: House GOP Campaign Arm Targets Dems On Single-Payer Support 
The House GOP's campaign arm is targeting Democrats over their support of a government-run health-care system, commonly referred to as single-payer. In a new digital ad released Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee instructs viewers to tell Democrats that "single-payer is not an option." (Hellmann, 9/13)

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