WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Legislation that would expand the US Medicare health insurance program for senior citizens to all Americans has won backing from 16 Democratic members of the US Senate, former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"We now have the support here in the Senate of 16 senators plus myself and whole lot of folks in the House of Representatives, and importantly we also have the strong support of dozens and dozens of grass roots organizations and trade unions representing the working people of this country," Sanders stated.
Sanders made his presentation in a campaign-style event with cheering supporters, and personal testimonies of doctors, a nurse, an ailing mother and child and a business executive who struggles to provide health insurance for employees.
More than half of the Democrats in the House of Representatives have also agreed to back Sanders’ legislation, despite a chilly reception to the idea of expanding Medicare among party leaders in both houses of Congress.
Sanders gave no indication how his proposal would be funded. The present Medicare system, which insures all Americans age 65 years and older, is expected to become insolvent by 2029 because costs far exceed taxes needed to support the program, according to a recent US government report.
In 2014, Sanders’ home state of Vermont abandoned a four-year effort to provide universal health care when it became clear the measure would double the state’s budget in the first year alone, requiring massive tax increases on individuals and businesses.