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To my fellow Vermonters:
Thank you for your recent communications via petition on health care and your desire to see quick congressional action.
I absolutely agree. As you well know, our health care system today is disintegrating. Currently, 46 million Americans have no health insurance and even more are underinsured. While 60 million Americans lack access to a doctor on a regular basis, some 18,000 die every year because they do not receive timely care. Meanwhile, despite spending almost twice as much per person on health care as any other nation, we lag behind most of them in such health outcomes as life expectancy, infant mortality and preventable deaths.
Further, from an economic perspective it is beyond comprehension that
approximately one million Americans will go bankrupt this year from
medically related expenses. Further, both small and large businesses
are increasingly finding themselves economically uncompetitive with the
rest of the world because of soaring health care costs.
Clearly, we need a fundamental overhaul of our health care system -- and that is what I am fighting for. In that regard, I am proud to have introduced S. 703, Single Payer Medicare for All legislation which would provide comprehensive, cost-effective health care for every man, woman and child in our country. A single-payer system can achieve those goals because it eliminates some $400 billion a year in administration costs, profiteering and excessive CEO compensation engendered by the for-profit private health insurance industry.
Let me be frank. While I will fight as hard as I can for my single-payer legislation on the floor of the Senate it will likely fail. Sadly, the power of the health care industry, which is spending $1.3 million a DAY on lobbying, is just too great.
As a fall-back position I will demand a strong public option in any health care legislation that comes to the floor. The American people must have the right to choose, if they want, a Medicare-type public option which competes with the private insurance companies and keeps them honest and accountable. Any health care reform legislation which passes must also focus on disease prevention, improved primary care, quality control, lower cost prescription drugs costs and universal coverage.
Let me conclude by mentioning that while the health care debate rages in Washington, I am happy to tell you that we are making some real progress in significantly improving primary health care which is accessible and affordable for Vermonters. In the last few years my office, working with communities around the state, has greatly expanded the Federally Qualified Health Center Program which provides quality health and dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs on a sliding scale basis. There are now over 100,000 Vermonters who receive their primary health care through FQHCs.
Once again, thanks very much for writing. Together, we will continue the fight to provide quality health care for all Americans at an affordable cost.
For more information on what I am doing on health care and other issues, please visit my website, www.sanders.senate.gov.