Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sen. Sanders Hits the Ground Walking on Health Care

by Phil E. Benjamin

Senator Sanders Hits the Ground Walking:
Introduces S. 703; National Health Care Bill

At almost the last possible moment, Socialist Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders has introduced his version of a "Single Payer" national health care bill. This is the first such national health bill introduced into the U.S. Senate; Senate Bill 703.

Sanders' publicity for the bill recalls the single payer bill previously introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senator Paul Wellstone.

On the negative side; Sanders mimics the Wellstone version of single payer by stating that: "While federally funded, the program is to be administered by the states." State run programs would be a disaster. Fortunately, HR 676, the Conyers Bill, is a national health program; not a state program.

On the very positive side, S.703 would have the following provisions:

Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice;

Comprehensive benefits, including coverage for dental, mental health, and prescription drugs;

Community health centers are fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care;

To address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Services Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals. [No tuition programs]

There are other vague references to saving money and limiting overhead and profits of insurance carriers, but no details were provided.

Sanders does a service by extending community health centers and training more primary care doctors and nurses. These provisions should be part of any program that the Administration is contemplating. They are an important part of the PUBLIC card.