NORTHWOOD — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders keyed on the nation’s healthcare system during a speech this morning at Northwood-Kensett High School.

Sanders says Americans are paying more for healthcare and prescription medicines compared to anywhere else in the world.  “Today in America, we are spending twice as much per person on healthcare as do the people of any other country. We spend about $11,000 a year, Canadians spend about half of that, UK they spend probably less than half, France, Germany half…why do we spend so much on healthcare? Yet 87 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured and we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

Sanders wants to see the equivalent of a “Medicare for All” program passed through Congress that not only will cover general healthcare, it will also cover home healthcare, dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aides.   “Right now, Medicare, which is a good program, needs to be improved. It’s a good program for people 65 or older. I want to make it available for everybody in this country over a four-year period. From 65 now, down to 55 the first year, 45, 35. And in my plan, nobody in America will spend more than $200 for prescription drugs.”

Sanders says his program will be funded out of the general tax base.  “No more premiums, no more co-payments, no more out-of-pocket expenses. Is it free? Of course not, it has to be paid for, healthcare is expensive, but it’s paid for out of the general tax base in a way that the overwhelming majority of the American people will be paying less for healthcare than they are right now. Paying more in taxes, but without paying premiums, without paying co-payments, without paying out-of-pocket expenses. All Americans except for the very wealthy will be paying less for healthcare than they have.”

Sanders slipped into third place behind Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden in The Des Moines Register/CNN “Iowa Poll” released on Saturday night.