With a Democratic debate just hours away, the Bernie Sanders campaign released the senator’s plan to bring universal health care to the United States. Touted in the opening paragraphs as continuing the legacy of Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and other great Democrats, Bernie has finally given us a comprehensive breakdown of his single payer plan.
The release couldn’t come at a better time for the senator, who has been under fire from opponent Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea over the “actual” cost of a single-payer plan. Secretary Clinton made what many are calling the unfortunate mistake of using a Republican talking point, trashing the senator’s plan for a $19 billion deficit that has been widely scrutinized and debunked.
Clinton says a single payer plan would tear down everything President Obama and the Democrats have built with the ACA. In essence, that is true, as the senator’s plan calls for the expansion of Medicare to every American, eliminating the connection between employee, employer and health insurance. Sanders makes it clear, however, that the Affordable Care Act is extremely successful and that he was there to help write it:
The Affordable Care Act was a critically important step towards the goal of universal health care. Thanks to the ACA, more than 17 million Americans have gained health insurance. Millions of low-income Americans have coverage through expanded eligibility for Medicaid that now exists in 31 states. Young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans until they’re 26. All Americans can benefit from increased protections against lifetime coverage limits and exclusion from coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Bernie was on the U.S. Senate committee that helped write the ACA. But as we move forward, we must build upon the success of the ACA to achieve the goal of universal health care.
Twenty-nine million Americans today still do not have health insurance and millions more are underinsured and cannot afford the high copayments and deductibles charged by private health insurance companies that put profits before people.
The senator also released a comprehensive look at how the plan would affect the middle and working class favorably while guaranteeing health insurance for every man, woman and child in this country. For the bulk of Americans, the cost out of their own pockets would be far less than they pay in premiums, and for those caught up in the horrible mess of the Medicaid gap created by Republicans to promote corporate profits over the well-being of working class Americans.
Those who will find the senator’s plan unfavorable are those at the top. While their businesses would be freed from the concerns of employee health care, allowing more time and revenue to be directed at increased productivity and profits, their personal income will take the hit liberals have been calling for heavily, especially since the Great Recession. Wealth inequality in this country is an issue that progressives like Bernie Sanders are extremely concerned about. This is Bernie’s answer:
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
This plan has been estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year.
THIS PLAN WOULD BE FULLY PAID FOR BY:
● A 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers. Revenue raised: $630 billion per year.
● A 2.2 percentincome-based premium paid by households. Revenue raised: $210 billion per year. This year, a family of four taking the standard deduction can have income up to $28,800 and not pay this tax under this plan. A family of four making $50,000 a year taking the standard deduction would only pay $466 this year.
● Progressive income tax rates. Revenue raised: $110 billion a year. Under this plan the marginal income tax rate would be:
○ 37 percent on income between $250,000 and $500,000.
○ 43 percent on income between $500,000 and $2 million.
○ 48 percent on income between $2 million and $10 million. (In 2013, only 113,000 households, the top 0.08 percent of taxpayers, had income between $2 million and $10 million.)
○ 52 percent on income above $10 million. (In 2013, only 13,000 households, just 0.01 percent of taxpayers, had income exceeding $10 million.)
● Taxing capital gains and dividends the same as income from work. Revenue raised: $92 billion per year. Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest American in the country, has said that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. The reason is that he receives most of his income from capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a much lower rate than income from work. This plan will end the special tax break for capital gains and dividends on household income above $250,000.
● Limit tax deductions for rich. Revenue raised: $15 billion per year Under Bernie’s plan, households making over $250,000 would no longer be able to save more than 28 cents in taxes from every dollar in tax deductions. This limit would replace more complicated and less effective limits on tax breaks for the rich including the AMT, the personal exemption phase-out and the limit on itemized deductions.
● The Responsible Estate Tax. Revenue raised: $21 billion per year. This provision would tax the estates of the wealthiest 0.3 percent(threetenths of 1 percent) of Americans who inherit over $3.5 million at progressive rates and close loopholes in the estate tax.
● Savings from health tax expenditures. Revenue raised: $310 billion per year. Several tax breaks that subsidize health care (health-related “tax expenditures”) would become obsolete and disappear under a single-payer health care system, saving $310 billion over ten years.
Most importantly, health care provided by employers is compensation that is not subject to payroll taxes or income taxes under current law. This is a significant tax break that would effectively disappear under this plan because all Americans would receive health care through the new single-payer program instead of employer-based health care
Surely there will be a lot of debate over the feasibility of Senator Sanders’ plan, but at first glance it appears to be the kind of single-payer plan people who care about other people — and their country — have been waiting for.
Faetured image via Bernie for America (pdf)