Sen. Bernie Sanders tweaks his "Medicare-for-All' plan to court union voters

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) tweaked his Medicare-for-all insurance plan on Wednesday in an apparent bid to alleviate fears among labor representatives that it could lead to a loss of some benefits for workers who negotiated deals under the current system.

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The adjusted plan would mandate that companies with existing union-negotiated health care plans submit to new negotiations under the National Labor Relations Board’s watch, with any savings on healthcare funneled into other benefits, such as higher pay. Labor officials had expressed concern that Sanders’ proposed system would hurt pre-negotiated benefits.

“Furthermore, the plan will ensure that union-sponsored clinics and other providers are integrated within the Medicare for All system, and kept available for members,” the plan posted on his web site details. “Unions will still be able to negotiate for and provide wrap-around services and other coverage not duplicative of the benefits established under Medicare for All.”

The Washington Post was first to note the change. Sanders has vowed to double union membership during his first term in office if elected.

Health care has been a divisive topic among Sanders, an independent, and prominent Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said earlier this week that she has “not been comfortable” with Medicare-for-all, after previously expressing support for the concept. Former vice president Joe Biden supports a revamp of the Obama administration’s signature Affordable Care Act.

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Other critics have raised questions about the possible cost of a Medicare-for-all plan, with one estimate, disputed by the Sanders campaign, projecting $32 trillion over a decade.