December 23, 2009

Sen. Bernie Sanders explains to Chris Matthews why he decided to support the health care bill. At least Sanders unlike the other hold outs made them do something to improve the bill instead of helping the insurance companies. He still doesn't sound much happier about it than many of us are and he extracted a price to get his vote. I respect the fact that he's at least willing to defend it unlike many of the others who slipped in pork for their states that does nothing to help the rest of the country.

Want Universal Health Care? Move to Vermont:

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accomplished what no one else in Washington seems to be able to do: Providing his constituents with affordable universal health care coverage.

In exchange for his vote on the diluted Senate health care bill, Sanders asked for and received just what the doctor ordered — $10 billion to increase the number of community health care centers nationwide, including at least two more for Vermont. It means health care for 25 million Americans nationwide, if the bill passes.

The Green Mountain State already has eight of those centers, which provide primary care, dental and low-cost prescription drugs. Nobody is turned away, since the centers accept as payment Medicare, Medicaid or nothing at all from people who are uninsured. More than 100,000 Vermonters get their primary care at these health care centers.

Sanders, a self-described socialist who by virtue of the fragile Democratic coalition in the Senate finds himself with more clout than ever before, isn’t stopping there. Now he’s pushing to expand by 20,000 the ranks of doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals who are part of the National Health Service Corps.

Sanders wants to thank those medical professionals for their commitment to providing Americans with quality, affordable health care by forgiving or reducing the obscene debts they face from the cost of attending college and medical school.

Continue reading...

Katrina Vanden Heuvel has more at The Nation's blog--Sanders Strengthens Senate Health Bill:

Without fanfare, the good Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, has continued to work behind the scenes to champion community health centers--something he has done for years (also here). These non-profit, community-based facilities provide primary healthcare, dental care, mental health services, and low-cost prescription drugs on a sliding scale. As amendments were added in recent days to win over the Liebermans and Nelsons of the "greatest [undemocratic] deliberative body" in the world, Sanders made sure that a $10 billion increase in funding for the health centers was included.

We can argue about whether the trade off was worth it or not, but I'll never throw Bernie in the same basket with the Nelson's and the Landrieu's of the world.

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