This Medicare-for-All segment is eventful and substantive
The Democratic Debate was lively, substantive, and raw. Hillary Clinton continued to conflate the effecting of a Medicare-for-All, single-payer, as a dismantling of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. Sanders did an excellent job of pushing back.
Andrea Mitchell: Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders favors what he calls "Medicare for all." Now, you said that what he is proposing would tear up Obamacare and replace it. Secretary Clinton, is it fair to say to say that Bernie Sanders wants to kill Obamacare? Hillary Clinton: Well, Andrea, I am absolutely committed to universal health care. I have worked on this for a long time, people may remember that I took on the health insurance industry back in the '90s, and I didn't quit until we got the children's health insurance program that ensures eight million kids. And I certainly respect Senator Sanders' intentions, but when you're talking about health care, the details really matter. And therefore, we have been raising questions about the nine bills that he introduced over 20 years, as to how they would work and what would be the impact on people's health care? He didn't like that, his campaign didn't like it either. And tonight, he's come out with a new health care plan. And again, we need to get into the details. But here's what I believe, the Democratic Party and the United States worked since Harry Truman to get the Affordable Care Act passed. We finally have a path to universal health care. We have accomplished so much already. I do not to want see the Republicans repeal it, and I don't to want see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it.
Bernie Sanders: Secretary -- Secretary Clinton didn't answer your question. Because what her campaign was saying -- Bernie Sanders, who has fought for universal health care for my entire life, he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the children's health insurance program. That is nonsense. What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right. Now, the truth is, that Frank Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, do you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people. I'm on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I made the Affordable Care Act along with Jim Clyburn a better piece of legislation. I voted for it, but right now, what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off. And here's the important point, we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country. My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by 5,000 bucks. That's the vision we need to take.
Hillary Clinton: You know, I have to say I'm not sure whether we're talking about the plan you just introduced tonight, or we're talking about the plan you introduced nine times in the Congress. But the fact is, we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country. And we have already seen 19 million Americans get insurance. We have seen the end of pre-existing conditions keeping people from getting insurance. We have seen women no longer paying more for our insurance than men. And we have seen young people, up to the age of 26, being able to stay on their parent's policy.
Hillary Clinton: Now, there are things we can do to improve it, but to tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate, I think is the wrong direction.
Bernie Sanders: It is -- it is absolutely inaccurate.
Martin O'Malley: I have to talk about something that's actually working in our state.
Bernie Sanders: No one is tearing this up, we're going to go forward. But with the secretary neglected to mention, not just the 29 million still have no health insurance, that even more are underinsured with huge copayments and deductibles. Tell me why we are spending almost three times more than the British, who guarantee health care to all of their people? Fifty percent more than the French, more than the Canadians. The vision from FDR and Harry Truman was health care for all people as a right in a cost-effective way. We're not going to tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicaid-for- all system.
Martin O'Malley: Instead of -- Andrea, I think, instead of attacking one another on health care, we should be talking about the things that are actually working. In our state, we have moved to an all-payer system. With the Affordable Care Act, we now have moved all of our acute care hospitals, that driver of cost at the center, away from fee-for- service. And actually to pay, we pay them based on how well they keep patients out of the hospital. How well they keep their patients. That's the future. We need to build on the Affordable Care Act, do the things that work, and reduce costs and increase access.
Hillary Clinton: And that's exactly what we are able to do based on the foundation of the Affordable Care Act -- what Governor O'Malley just said is one of the models that we will be looking at to make sure we do get costs down, we do limit a lot of the unnecessary costs that we still have in the system. But, with all due respect, to start over again with a whole new debate is something that I think would set us back. The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thank goodness, President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare for the American people.
Andrea Mitchell: Senator Sanders, let me ask you this, though...you've talked about Medicare for all... and tonight you've released a very detailed plan, just two...
Bernie Sanders: Not all that detailed.
Andrea Mitchell: ... well, two hours before the debate, you did. But let me ask you about Vermont. Because in Vermont -- you tried in the state of Vermont, and Vermont walked away from this kind of idea, of -- of Medicare for all, single-payer, because they concluded it would require major tax increases...
Bernie Sanders: Well, that's -- you might want to ask...
Andrea Mitchell: ... and by some estimates, it would double the budget. If you couldn't sell it in Vermont, Senator...
Bernie Sanders: Andrea, let me just say this.
Andrea Mitchell: ... how can you sell it to the country?
Bernie Sanders: Let me just say that you might want to ask the governor of the state of Vermont why he could not do it. I'm not the governor. I'm the senator from the state of Vermont. But second of all -- second of all ... here is what the real point is, in terms of all of the issues you've raised -- the good questions you've raised. You know what it all comes down to? Do you know why we can't do what every other country -- major country on Earth is doing? It's because we have a campaign finance system that is corrupt, we have super PACs, we have the pharmaceutical industry pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign contributions and lobbying, and the private insurance companies as well. What this is really about is not the rational way to go forward -- it's Medicare for all -- it is whether we have the guts to stand up to the private insurance companies and all of their money, and the pharmaceutical industry. That's what this debate should be about.
Hillary Clinton: Well, as someone who -- as someone who has a little bit of experience standing up to the health insurance industry, that spent, you know... many, many millions of dollars attacking me, and probably will so again, because of what I believe we can do building on the Affordable Care Act, I think it's important to point out that there are a lot of reasons we have the health care system we have today. I know how much money influences the political decision-making. That's why I'm for huge campaign finance reform. However, we started a system that had private health insurance. And even during the Affordable Care Act debate, there was an opportunity to vote for what was called the public option. In other words, people could buy in to Medicare, and even when the Democrats were in charge of the Congress, we couldn't get the votes for that. So, what I'm saying is really simple. This has been the fight of the Democratic Party for decades. We have the Affordable Care Act. Let's make it work. Let's take the models that states are doing. We now have driven costs down to the lowest they've been in 50 years. Now we've got to get individual costs down. That's what I'm planning to do.