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Last Updated December 13, 2013

Universal Long Term Care Coverage Proposed in Congress

A bill introduced to Congress on Monday would create a single-payer health care system for the United States, and includes universal long term care coverage.

Universal Health Care

The “American Health Security Act of 2013” was introduced by Senator Bernie universal long term careSanders (I-VT) and would require states to create a single-payer insurance system that replaces the Affordable Care Act exchanges and eliminates all other forms of public health insurance.

A response to the failed rollout of Obamacare, the new bill demonstrates a growing frustration with the new health care laws and the website that accompanies it, which continues to crash for many visitors.

“As the president fully understands, the rollout has been a disaster, the website has been a disaster,” said Sanders in an interview moments after his bill was introduced in the Senate. “But the truth is, even if all of those problems were corrected tomorrow and if the Affordable Care Act did all that it was supposed to do, it would be only a modest step forward to dealing with the dysfunction of the American health-care system.

Support for the Bill

Representative Jim Mcdermott (D-WA) introduced the same bill into the House in March of this year. The bill was referred to committee but never received a vote.

The bill received support from Colin Powell, who believes single-payer could be the answer to our health care woes. He admitted he was no expert in the area of health care, but believes this bill could help fix the health care system that so many Americans seem to dislike.

“Every country I’ve visited, every developed country, they have universal health care … I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on,” Powell said. “Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”

Program Details

The program replaces benefits received by Medicare, Medicaid, and all other types of public health insurance that would provide the same services at a different cost. It also prohibits the sale of insurance that has the same benefits, in effect creating a single-payer system for the entire country. Long term care support and services, including nursing homes, in-home care, assisted living facilities, and hospices, are covered by the bill.

This would be the first time that the government is involved in the payment of long term care, besides the occasional payment from Medicare for 30 days or less of coverage. Part of the Affordable Care Act was designated to create a public long term care insurance system, but the CLASS Act was later deemed unsustainable by the Department of Health and Human Services and the entire plan was nixed.

Sanders recognized the chance of the bill being passed by joking that he expected Obama to sign it as soon as he was back from South Africa. Regardless, the public fight for a single-payer system has been renewed, as many predicted would happen once the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Outlook

Though it is unlikely to gain traction for the entire country anytime soon, Senator Sanders already has plans in place to implement a single-payer system for his home state of Vermont as soon as it is permitted under the ACA, which according to the law is 2015, about one year from now. A law to enact the single-payer system was passed in the state in 2011, and advocates say the Affordable Care Act has only hindered their progress.

Still, opponents to a single-payer system are not few and far between. The likelihood of a single-payer bill passing Congress without a massive, ACA-similar fight is slim to none, but with the continued failures in place of the Affordable Care Act, we are unlikely to see the push for single-payer stop anytime soon.

Read the full text of the House version of the bill here.

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