Sanders preps month-long campaign for single-payer health care, with legislation to follow

Sen. Bernie Sanders is ramping up his campaign for single-payer health care, starting with digital ads that ask voters to endorse his planned “Medicare for All” legislation ahead of the Senate’s August recess. The six-figure buy, paid for by Sanders’s 2018 Senate reelection campaign, will direct readers to his website, where they can sign on to his bill.

That will tee up legislation that Sanders (I-Vt.) has promised, then delayed, since March — a version of single-payer health care that, he hopes, will avoid some of the pitfalls that have made previous bills politically untenable.

“We’re tweaking the final points of the bill, and we’re figuring out how we can mount a national campaign to bring people together,” Sanders said this past weekend on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The long delay, a result of GOP health-care legislation repeatedly clawing out of what the media thought was its coffin, has resulted in Republican attacks on the House’s main single-payer bill, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). As the repeal effort sputtered, Republicans pointed to an Urban Institute analysis of the Conyers bill to say that moving from the current system to universal Medicare would cost $32 trillion, and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) brought up the Conyers bill as a dilatory amendment to the GOP’s proposed health-care legislation.

Sanders has challenged the Urban Institute’s math — pointing out that the estimate does not account for possible savings from moving people out of the private insurance market — and suggested that his bill will come with a smaller price tag.