Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare by calling for a national single-payer healthcare system for everyone, reports The Hill and The Washington Post.
“The time has come to say we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer national healthcare program,” the Vermont senator told a crowd during a rally across the street from the U.S. Capitol.
Organized by National Nurses United, the event attracted people from a large variety of labor unions. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the 185,000-member National Nurses United and a national vice president of the AFL-CIO, introduced Sanders at the rally by calling him a “rock star.”
“I have to tell you, he is one of us,” DeMoro said, according to The Washington Post.
Although Sanders has previously fought for such healthcare legislation, with unsuccessful results in Congress, he promised the crowd that he will introduce a single-payer healthcare bill “in the very near future.” His prior attempts and failures do not seem to dampen the high spirits he showed at the rally.
“All of the pundits always tell us what we cannot accomplish until the day after we accomplish it,” Sanders said, The Hill reports.
After the rally, Sanders’ office released a statement explaining that, while the presidential candidate’s legislation would set “federal guidelines and strong minimum standards,” states would be ultimately the ones who direct the single-payer programs, according to The Hill.
Sanders also took time at the rally to attack his fellow presidential hopefuls.
“When I hear politicians like Jeb Bush and others talking about phasing out Medicare, that ain’t going to happen,” Sanders remarked, The Hill documents.
Currently in the polls, the Vermont senator lags far behind Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Yet, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll that hypothetically matched Sanders against Republican contender Donald Trump, the self-described democratic socialist came out on top in the scenario. With 44 percent, Sanders would overcome Trump’s 39 percent, reports CNN.