Many who tuned into CNN's health care debate on Monday night were eager to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders speak out on the current GOP health care proposal, authored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. The Republican lawmakers claim their bill would give states autonomy in choosing how to cover their citizens' health care. Analysts, however, are remarkably critical of the plan. Among the most vociferous critics of the bill is the independent Vermont lawmaker himself, and Sanders' best quotes from the Graham-Cassidy debate make his viewpoint loud and clear.
Sanders' position on health care is a polarizing subject for Democrats who often view the senator's stance as extreme. But recently some Democrats, including such "ideologically diverse" figures as Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have come to express their support for Sanders' demand for universal health care. In September, Sanders described his position on accessible and universal health care for everyone as a moral issue that Americans could no longer ignore.
The Vermont senator has suggested that universal health care would "end the international disgrace of the United States of America, our great nation, being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all of our people."
Echoing his previous sentiments on health care, Sanders took Monday night's debate as an opportunity to highlight the problems with the Graham-Cassidy bill and demand universal health care once more.
Counting The GOP's Moves Against Obamacare
Since [Donald Trump] was elected, these gentlemen and the Republican leadership have on five occasions tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act for tens and tens of millions of Americans off of the health insurance they currently have and make it impossible or very difficult for people with pre-existing conditions to get the health care they can afford.
What The GOP Wants To Do
What these guys want to do is force older workers to see a very significant increase in their premiums, which is why the [American Association of Retired Persons] is vigorously opposed to their legislation.
Harming Women's Health Care
They want to tell 2.5 million women in the United States of America, who today choose Planned Parenthood to get their health care, [that] they can't do that because they want to defund Planned Parenthood.
No Major Organization Supports The Bill
At least 70 major medical associations of the United States strongly oppose the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. A joint official statement was released by the major medical organizations of the country against the GOP health care legislation. And Sanders made sure to mention that on Monday night's anticipated debate.
Every major health organization in this country, whether it is the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer's Society, every single major medical organization in this country thinks that their proposal is a disaster.
Defeating Graham-Cassidy Bill Is Critical
So our job now is to defeat this disastrous proposal, get back to the drawing board, and see if we can work together for some short-term fixes.
Sanders' Long-Term Plan In His Words
Sanders told his audience:
[I]n my view — I speak only for myself — this country has got to join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee health care as a right of all people.
Extravagant Fees For Medical Care
...I know nobody up here wants to see anybody die. But you tell me what happens when somebody who has cancer, somebody who has a serious heart condition, somebody who has a life- threatening disease suddenly loses the health insurance that they have. And the experts and studies tell us that under their type of proposal, thousands of people every single year will die.
Sanders went on to say that Americans pay "by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs." Sanders suggested that a public option to compete with the private pharmaceutical prices would be a good "short-term" fix.
"Medicare For All" Isn't A Fringe Idea
After one speaker asked whether Sanders was willing to cede ground to a more centrist position on health care, the senator responded:
I don't think Medicare for all is an extreme idea. Every other major country on Earth guarantees health care to all people as a right. We end up spending, because of the dysfunctional and complicated system that we have right now designed to make insurance company profits, we spend twice as much per capita as any other country on Earth.
Insurance Companies & Profits
This system is designed to make billions of dollars in profits for the insurance industry. We spend 12 percent to 18 percent to administer the incredibly complex hundreds of plans that we currently have. And with these guys, if they got their way [and the Graham-Cassidy bill passed], there would even be more plans, more bureaucracy, more complexity, more money going to the insurance companies.
One Out Of Four Americans Cannot Afford Medical Care
Sanders cited a study on the abject condition of medical care accessibility in the United States of America: "One out of five Americans cannot afford the medicine they need."
The Most Popular Insurance Plan Right Now?
Sanders quizzed his fellow debaters on the most popular insurance plan:
[D]o you know what the most popular health insurance program in America is? It's not the private insurance industry. It is ... Medicare, yeah!
[Americans] want a cost-effective system that, in fact, deals with the needs of our people and not just the CEOs of large corporations.
Monday night's debate brought several big terms to the American public's attention — like "reinsurance" and "reimportation" — but it seems like that most memorable takeaway from the political exchange on CNN was Sanders' set of points, as he appeared to have his finger on the pulse of his audience.