Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders accused former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday of distorting his proposal to provide single-payer, universal health care through “Medicare for All.”
Campaigning in the early caucus state of Nevada, the 78-year-old Vermont senator said one of the things that “disturbed” him about Thursday’s debate was that he was hoping “to have a serious discussion about the health care crisis in America.”
“I was not pleased that Vice President Biden distorted what Medicare for All is and, in fact, simply parroted the line coming from the health care industry,” Sanders told about 300 people at a town hall meeting at the Carson City Convention Center.
“Apparently the vice president thinks it is just wonderful for people to be paying $1000 a month ... just for health care premiums. Having deductibles of $4,000 or $5,000 or more - not a problem. Paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs – not a problem. Well, I think those are problems,” he said.
Sanders took heavy fire on his single-payer health insurance proposal at Thursday night’s debate in Houston, with Biden and others hammering the Vermont senator for the cost and the political palatability of effectively eliminating the existing private insurance market.
The former vice president went hardest at Sanders when the senator argued that the estimated $30 trillion cost over a decade is cheaper than the “status quo,” which he put at $50 trillion - with most of the money being what Americans spend privately on premiums, copays, and out-of-pocket costs. Sanders’ argument is that most U.S. households would pay less overall under his system, even if their taxes go up.
Biden said that Sanders would effectively be handing Americans a pay cut, arguing that employers who now pay a share of workers’ premiums would pocket that money instead of giving workers raises if the government were to cover all health care costs. Biden punctuated the point with one of the quotes of the night: “For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”