Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, on Monday announced that he plans to introduce legislation to establish a federal fund to help local governments buy for-profit hospitals at risk of closing.
Sanders made the announcement at a rally seeking to prevent Philadelphia-based Hahnemann University Hospital from closing. The hospital's owner currently is in bankruptcy proceedings and plans to close the hospital in September. The hospital has been scaling back its services, including its maternity and emergency care services, in preparation for the closure.
Sanders' appearance at the rally is part of the senator's week-long effort to highlight his support for transitioning the United States to a single-payer health care system.
Sanders during the rally said he plans to "very soon" introduce a bill that would "establish a $20 billion emergency trust fund to help states and local communities purchase hospitals that are in financial distress." Sanders said, "In my view, any time a hospital is put up for sale in America, the local community or the state must have the right to buy it first with emergency financial assistance."
Sanders added that the United States could prevent hospital closures by establishing a single-payer health care system that focuses on patient care rather than profits. A single-payer health system would not be "based on a system of profiteering, whether it's real estate speculators, whether it's insurance companies, or whether it's drug companies," Sanders said (Ellison, Becker's Hospital CFO Report, 7/15; Nobles, CNN, 7/15).