Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a bill next month to create a government-run, single-payer health care system. And he knows it's going to fail.
"Look, I have no illusions that under a Republican Senate and a very right-wing House and an extremely right-wing president of the United States, that suddenly we're going to see a Medicare-for-all, single-payer passed," he said recently, sitting in his Senate office. "You're not going to see it. That's obvious."
The point of the bill, Sanders says, is to force a conversation: "Excuse me: why is the United States the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people? Why are we spending far, far more per capita on health care than any other nation? Why do we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?"
Single-payer was a major policy plank of Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, and he has been ready all year to put it into legislation. He was just waiting for Republicans to wrap up their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
That means Sanders has been waiting for a while.
Despite President Trump's continued calls for Congress to repeal Obamacare, House and Senate Republicans appear to have moved on to other priorities. That means when Congress returns to Washington, D.C., next month, Sanders will roll out his bill.
The measure is the latest example of how Sanders is trying to push the Democratic Party — a party he is not formally a member of as an independent — to the left.
Sanders and his staff are confident a substantial number of Democratic senators will co-sponsor the measure. But many Democratic Party leaders continue to hold the idea of single-payer at arm's-length. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez regularly pivots to a broader answer about health care policy when he is asked whether he backs a single-payer plan.
"We believe that health care is a right for all, and not a privilege for a few," Perez recently told NPR. "And right now, in Washington, D.C., in the political climate in which we live, preserving the Affordable Care Act is a major victory."
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment