No, Bernie Sanders Isn’t Going To Take Away Your Health Care

Hillary Clinton is smearing Bernie Sanders on the topic of universal health care. While Sanders wants a single payer system that will allow everyone (except undocumented immigrants) access to medical care, Clinton is claiming his plan will actually kick people off. Not true. But that isn’t stopping Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, from repeating it.

“Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance. I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era…that would strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.”

The problem with this is that Bernie Sanders’ universal health care plan has been well-documented for years. In 2013 he introduced legislation that outlined his plan. His plan, S.1782, would enact Medicare-For-All Single Payer Health Care System. It would recognize health care as a human right, allow some state flexibility in implementing it and also ensure a more efficient system with a focus on prevention, high quality care, and lower costs.

What the Clintons are probably referring to is the language within Sanders’ health care bill that says it would repeal provisions of the ACA and private insurance, which Sanders wants to do away with. But even then, both women are familiar enough with Bernie Sanders’ health care advocacy to know that he has no intention of taking away children’s health care or going back to pre-ACA times, when the average American struggled to get on and keep health insurance. In an email sent to his supporters, Bernie Sanders confronted the attack head-on, characterizing the propaganda against the Vermont senator as “vicious.”

“Earlier today, Hillary Clinton ‘s campaign unleased a series of vicious and coordinated attacks against Bernie’s universal health care plan. They falsely claimed Bernie’s plan would end the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), dismantle Medicare and strip millions of people of their coverage.”

Ariana Jones, Bernie Sanders’ campaign spokeswoman, responded to Chelsea Clinton’s attack:

“It is time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide health care as a right to every man, woman, and child. A Medicare-For-All plan will save the average middle-class family $5,000 a year. Further, the Clinton campaign is wrong. Our plan will be implemented in every state in the union regardless of who is governor.”

In other words, Sanders would not allow GOP governors to refuse health care for their state’s citizens, which could ensure that millions of people who currently still do not have access to medical insurance are covered. For any states that refuse to set up a single payer system, the federal government would do it. They would not be able to opt out.

From day one, Bernie Sanders has made it clear that he wants every American citizen to have health care. And Clinton’s claim that he would dismantle Medicare is baffling, since Sanders has also said time and time again that he wants to expand Medicare. The mental gymnastics involved in going from “expanding Medicare” to “dismantling” leave only one conclusion: Hillary is willing to sling mud at a time when she is losing support while Sanders is gaining coveted endorsements. And because Bernie Sanders is perhaps one of the most consistent, scandal-free politicians to ever run for public office, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is struggling to find something to accuse him of and make it stick. Sanders’ website also indicates his advocacy for affordable prescription drug prices.

“Americans pay, by far, the highest prices for prescription drugs n the entire world…A life-saving drug does no good if the people who need it cannot afford that drug.”

His plan for lowering drug prices would involve requiring Medicare to negotiate for better deals, allow for Canadian prescriptions to be imported by individuals, wholesalers, and pharmacists, and restore discounts for low-income senior citizens. His plan would also ban deals that currently keep generic drugs off the market and enact stronger penalties for fraud. Lastly, his prescription drug plan would force transparency in pricing practices so consumers know why they are paying a certain price for a drug they need. What makes Hillary Clinton’s attack on Bernie Sanders and his universal health care plan so heinous is that during her 2008 campaign, she ran on a similar platform to the one Sanders is running on now. When Barack Obama sent out mailers criticizing her plan, she cried foul.

“Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care? I thought we were trying to realize Harry Truman’s dream. I thought this campaign finally gave us an opportunity to put together a coalition to achieve universal health care.”

Good question, Hillary. The answer, it seems, is when your opponent is Bernie Sanders and the issue is universal health care.

[Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty]