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Bernie Sanders In 1987: Single-Payer ‘Would Bankrupt The Nation’


Single-payer health care is the newest buzzword for progressive democrats looking to appeal to their bases. A topic too scandalous to even be addressed prior to this peculiar time, it is now something many members of Congress have stepped forward to support.

On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders released his latest concoction of a bill, given the name “Medicare for All,” which demands an immense government expansion to cover healthcare for the entire U.S. population. Not only does Sanders’ bill demand an increase in the federal government, it also requires an exponential tax increase, as taxpayers will have to pay for the new Medicare system.

Our national debt is at an unsanctionable high, and fiscally responsible decisions are needed to halt any further increases to the debt crisis. Yet last week, President Trump struck a tax deal with the Democratic caucus, agreeing with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi on a debt ceiling increase. In so doing, the president bypassed his leadership, failed to acknowledge Speaker Ryan’s critique of the proposal, and agreed to a proposal that will continue to increase the nation’s debt.

Single-Payer Health Care Has Gone Mainstream

While President Trump was working on that debt ceiling increase, Sanders was proposing his bill, which would be another huge fiscally irresponsible decision, while surrounded by fellow Democratic congressmen.

“Instead of wasting hundreds of billions of dollars trying to administer an enormously complicated system of hundreds of separate insurance plans, there would be one insurance plan for the American people with one single payer,” Sanders argued.

Sixteen Democratic senators have supported Sanders’ bill, along with prominent members Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, and Kamala Harris of California.

Although these Democrats are eager to sign on to “Medicare For All,” there are still many within Congress who are hesitant.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland stated that “There’s the political issue, but there’s also the issue about how you make sure there will be adequate resources put into health care.”

In a statement Tuesday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said, “I am skeptical that single-payer is the right solution, but I believe that the Senate should carefully consider all of the options through regular order so that we can fully understand the impacts of these ideas on both our people and our economy.”

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein added, “My understanding is, the cost of single-payer is enormous,” Feinstein said.

‘Medicare For All’ Would Cost Trillions

The cost of the “Medicare for All” expansion is one of the biggest problems with Sanders’ bill. The Urban Institute said the scheme would cost the United States nearly $32 trillion over 10 years. This staggering number is approximately double Sanders’ estimate of the Medicare expansion cost.

But at one point in his political career, Sanders himself was critical of the immense price tag that comes with single-payer health care. This week, in a clip posted by the NTK network, Senator Bernie Sanders is shown discussing the difficulties America would face if a single-payer health care system were implemented.

The video from 1987 shows Sanders, then Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, speaking with physician Milton Terris on his show “Bernie Speaks with the Community.” Sanders compares American healthcare to Canadian healthcare. Expanding on Canada’s healthcare system, he says,

“You want to guarantee that all people have access to health care as you do in Canada. But I think what we understand is that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanism in this country to do that—for example, if we expanded Medicaid [to] everybody, give everybody a Medicaid card—we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation.”

Sanders Has Changed His Tone On Health Care

Contrast that with Sanders’ Wednesday op-ed for the New York Times, titled “Bernie Sanders: Why We Need Medicare For All.”

“I live 50 miles south of the Canadian border,” Sanders says. “For decades, every man, woman and child in Canada has been guaranteed health care through a single-payer, publicly funded health care program. This system has not only improved the lives of the Canadian people but has also saved families and businesses an immense amount of money.”

Sanders’ statements are strong, considering the fact that he gives no solid evidence that the Canadian people are saving money with single-payer healthcare. The Fraser Institute has actually released a study stating that Canada has the most expensive universal health care system, after adjusting the age of the population. Not only is it the most expensive, Canadians are facing longer wait times, as well as constantly increasing health care insurance prices.

Both of Sanders’ statements can be quickly debunked. The fact of the matter is, single-payer health care costs the government and taxpayers more, while also decreasing the quality of care.

It seems that Senator Sanders might be falling into the all-too common political pit of pandering. He has seen what his progressive base wants, and he has jumped on the idea—full speed ahead.

Despite his past critiques of a single-payer, “Medicare for All” healthcare expansion, Sanders seems to have adopted a completely different tone. Does he simply not care about the nation’s debt anymore? Or does he actually want to “bankrupt the nation”?

Sanders Should Explain How He’ll Pay For His Plan

This past Sunday, while on Meet The Press, NBC’s Chuck Todd played the clip from 1987, and then asked Sanders about his financial plan to pay for the ‘Medicaid for All.’

Sanders dodged the question and responded, “Okay. Very good question, Chuck. But here is my hope. You and I are going to discuss this within five minutes. I would hope very much that NBC and CBS and ABC allow us some serious discussion time to explain to people in our country why we are spending so much more than other countries.”

Sanders says he wants to have a serious discussion in order to lay out how the estimated $2.5 trillion a year would be paid for. That’s what NBC, CBS, and ABC should do. Bring him on a program, and have him detail where the funds will come from, because America is wondering.