Landmark Bill to be Marked Up Next Week
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, announced Thursday that they have reached a deal on landmark legislation to address the primary care crisis in America and the major shortages of nurses, primary care doctors, and other important health care jobs across the country, and to increase critical funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Centers.
“After over a month of very productive and thoughtful negotiations, I am delighted to announce that Senator Marshall and I have reached an agreement on a historic bipartisan bill to expand primary care and to reduce the massive shortage of nurses and primary care doctors in America,” Senator Sanders said. “It is unacceptable that millions of Americans throughout our country do not have access to affordable, high-quality primary care and are unable to get the health care they need when they need it. Every major medical organization understands that our investment in primary care is woefully inadequate. They understand that focusing on disease prevention and providing more Americans with a medical home instead of relying on expensive emergency rooms for primary care will not only save lives and human suffering, it will save money. This bipartisan legislation is not only good public policy, it is cost-effective. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues in the HELP Committee to advance this legislation through the Senate and get it signed into law as soon as possible.”
“I’ve always said that I'd work with any of my colleagues as long as the person sitting across the table and I have the same common goal. Senator Sanders and I share our belief that every American should have access to affordable, meaningful healthcare,” Senator Marshall said. “Community health care centers are a vital player in addressing the health care challenges we face today. This legislation expands American's access to these health centers that provide excellent care like in-house mental health services, dental care, and nutrition coaching. Our bill also recognizes and addresses the challenges our health care industry is facing, like the shortage of nurses and primary care doctors, and includes programs to bolster the workforce in a fiscally responsible way. We believe this investment will save Medicaid and Medicare tens of billions of dollars and, more importantly, provide improved health care outcomes for all Americans.”
According to the most recent estimates, over the next decade the United States faces a shortage of over 120,000 doctors — including a huge shortage of primary care doctors. The nursing shortage may be even worse. Over the next two years alone, it is estimated that we will need between 200,000 and 450,000 more nurses.
The Sanders-Marshall agreement answers this crisis by providing over $26 billion in funding to expand primary care in America and address the health care workforce shortage:
The legislation will be fully paid for by combatting the enormous waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system, making it easier for patients to access low-cost generic drugs and holding pharmacy benefit managers accountable, among other provisions.
The legislation will be marked up in the HELP Committee on Thursday, September 21.
To read the summary on the legislation, click here.
To read the legislation, click here.