Sen. Michael Bennet came at Medicare for All, and for Bernie Sanders. It did not end well for him.
In the first half-hour of Thursday night’s debate, healthcare—specifically, Sanders’ federal Medicare for All proposal—was chief among the topics broached by the hosts. And while Sen. Kamala Harris’s hand-raise in support the abolition of private insurance raised some eyebrows, it was a spirited takedown of private health insurance companies by Sen. Bernie Sanders that stood out.
Facing a question from NBC moderator Lester Holt about how his plan would succeed at a federal level, Sanders delivered a scathing analysis of the present purpose of American private insurance companies:
I find it hard to believe that every other major country on earth, including my neighbor 50 miles to the north of me, Canada, somehow has figured out a way to provide healthcare to every man, woman, and child, and in some cases, they’re spending 50 percent per capita [less] than what we are spending.
Let us be very clear: the function of healthcare today, from the insurance and drug company perspective, is not to provide quality care for all at a cost-effective price; the function of the healthcare system today is to make billions in profits for the insurance companies.
And last year, if you can believe it, we paid the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. I will lower prescription drug prices in half for this country. The top 10 companies made 69 billion in profits. They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars lying to the American people, telling us why we cannot have a Medicare for All or single-payer program.
Bennet proceeded to call out Sanders’s M4A plan, taking issue with what he described as a ban on all insurance save for cosmetic-related operations, and paused afterwards in incredulity.
When the floor went back to Sanders for a response, well, he let him have it:
Just very briefly: You know Mike, Medicare is the most popular health insurance program in the country. People don’t like their private health insurance companies; they like their doctors and hospitals. Under our plan, people go to whatever hospital they want, whatever doctor they want and we will substantially lower the cost of healthcare in this country because we will stop the greed of the insurance countries.
Bennet should be happy they let him stay after stage after that one.