At a prostate cancer survivors breakfast last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, marveled at the quality of single-payer health care systems abroad and suggested the U.S. follow suit.
Amid frustration with the rollout of President Barack Obama's health care plan, some members of Congress who agree with Powell are pushing for consideration of such a system.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced the American Health Security Act of 2013 on Monday, which would require states to create their own single-payer insurance systems. A House version was introduced in March by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
In single-payer systems, the government pays for most non-elective medical care. Supporters say adopting that tax-financed model would improve care and dramatically reduce costs by eliminating overhead and insurance company profits. Opponents fear rationing and reduced personal choice.