Last December, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced a single payer bill (S. 1782).
Three months later, it has no co-sponsors.
That would be zero. None. Zilch.
Sanders has persuaded not one of his fellow liberal Democrats to sign on.
Not Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
Not Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Not Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).
Not Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts).
And no explanation as to why not.
Facing no support in the Senate, Senator Sanders barged ahead yesterday and held a hearing on the benefits single payer would bring to the United States.
“What this hearing is really about is two fundamental issues,” Sanders said. “First, the U.S., the wealthiest country on the planet, is the only major industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its citizens. Should we consider joining the rest of the world? I’d argue we should.”
“Second, the U.S. spends twice as much as other countries that have much better health outcomes. What can we learn from these countries?” asked Sanders, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.
Citing World Health Organization data, Sanders said the U.S. spends as much as three times more on healthcare than other industrialized countries.
Health care outlays in the U.S. account for about 18 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, significantly more than in France, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Norway, Taiwan and Israel, Sanders said.
In Denmark, “all citizens have access to care; no one may be denied services on the basis of income, age, health or employment status,” according to Jakob Kjellberg, an economist from Copenhagen.
Victor Rodwin, an expert on the French health care system, said “the French have easy access to primary health care, as well as specialty services, at half the per capita costs of what we spend in the U.S.”
Other witnesses said the money Americans sink into their expensive health care system does not buy better care.
“Canada achieved health outcomes that are at least equal to those in the U.S. at two-thirds the cost,” according to one witness at the hearing, Dr. Danielle Martin of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
The United States ranks 26th in life expectancy compared to other countries ranked by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
People who live in Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Israel, Norway and other countries live two to three years longer than Americans.
Sanders said that while the Affordable Care Act has improved access to insurance, “millions of Americans still lack insurance or have plans with such high deductibles and copayments that they cannot afford the care they need.”
“As a result, some 45,000 uninsured Americans die each year because they didn’t go to a doctor in time,” Sanders said.
A major factor driving up health care costs in the U.S. is the high cost of prescription drugs, Sanders said.
Hospital stays also cost more. While hospitals in Germany and France charge $3,000 for an appendectomy, for example, the average price for the same procedure in American hospitals is $13,000. Some U.S. hospitals charge $28,000.
“It is time for the U.S. to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee access to health care as a right of all people, not just a privilege for those who can afford it,” Sanders said.