Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) accused his CNN interviewer of using a Republican talking point against his proposed Medicare for All healthcare plan Tuesday, pledging the “overwhelming majority” of Americans will pay less under such a system than they currently do.
Sanders took exception to Brooke Baldwin’s characterization of his plan as a sudden “upending” of the existing American health care system, saying it would expand Medicare over a four-year period by steadily lowering the age for eligibility.
“We today are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right,” he said. “You’ve got 34 million without any health insurance. Even more are underinsured with high deductibles and copayments. At the end of all of that, we’re spending twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country.”
Baldwin jumped in, saying, “So you’re willing to extend health insurance to roughly 30 million who currently don’t have it, while upending employer-based insurance for more than 100 million.”
Sanders wagged his fingers at Baldwin as she asked him why he’d want to do that.
“I know this is a talking point from our opponents,” he said. “The function of the current health care system, Brooke, is to make enormous profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies.”
“Every single year, tens of millions of Americans change their health insurance program,” he added. “If you get fired tomorrow, guess what? You’re going to have to find a new insurance program. And that’s what employers do. People quit their jobs every year.”
“But let’s hope most of us aren’t getting fired and we get to keep our insurance as long as humanly possible, and in that case, a lot of people like to have that option,” Baldwin said. “I’m just saying.”
“You have the option. Actually you don’t,” Sanders said. “It is your employer who determines who your insurance company will be. What we are doing—the truth is that Medicare today is the most popular health insurance program in the country, and all we are doing is expanding it to cover all people, and when we do that, we do something that many private insurance policies don’t allow. We give you freedom of choice, as to the doctor that you go. Right now if you’re in a network, you may not be able to go to the doctor you want or else you have to pay a lot more.”
“No deductibles, no copayments, and we provide much more extensive benefits to most insurance companies,” he added.
Sanders repeated his long acknowledgment that taxes would go up to pay for his plan—one study puts the price tag at $32 trillion over 10 years—but claimed the “overwhelming majority of Americans” will pay less for health care under a Medicare for All system than they currently do.