WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced federal single payer legislation Tuesday ensuring that states implement Medicare-like systems for all residents.

The 188-page "American Health Security Act of 2011" would mandate that each state scrap private insurance and individually administer a government-run insurance program similar to Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration.

"It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system," Sanders said on Capitol Hill. "It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all single payer health coverage program."

The measure is all but dead on arrival in Congress, where it's unlikely to garner more than a handful of votes in either chamber. It's partly an attempt by the Vermont senator to capitalize on his state's success in passing a single payer program, which is poised to become law soon.

"I think the best way to reduce costs and guarantee coverage for all is through a single payer system like Medicare," McDermott said. "This bill does just that – it builds on the new health care law by giving states the flexibility they need to go to a single payer system of their own."

The U.S. spends far more per capita on health care than other industrialized nations and has comparable health outcomes, according to a range of studies.

"This is unacceptable," said Sanders, a vigorous single payer supporter. "Until we put patients over profits, our system will not work for ordinary Americans."

While introducing the legislation, Sanders and McDermott were joined by leaders of the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

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