Bernie Sanders: Democrats Should Not Negotiate With Republicans On Healthcare

Darien Cavanaugh

During an interview with host Dana Bash on CNN's State of the Union Sunday morning, Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said that Democratic "intransigence" is not the reason that President Donald Trump's healthcare plan met defeat in Congress earlier this week.

As Common Dreams' Jon Queally reports, Bash asked Sanders if he would "reach across the aisle" to Republicans and encourage Democrats to do the same. She also asked if Sanders would urge Democrats to "stop being intransigent" when it came to Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the Trump-endorsed American Health Care Act.

"Woe, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe," Sanders jokingly said before addressing Bash's questions.

"Look, what rational people would say is, 'What are the problems? And how do we fix it?' Are deductibles too high? Of course they are. Are there some parts of the country where people don't have a choice? Yes, that's true. Let us do, among other things, a public option. Let us give people in every state of this country a public option from which they can choose. Let's talk about lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Let's deal with the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Those are areas that we can work together on."

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) March 25, 2017

Slate's Jim Newell attributed the bill's failure to a rift between the "Freedom Caucus" and moderates within the Republican Party, with the former wanting the government to have nothing to do with healthcare while the latter opted for what Republican critics referred to as "Obamacare Lite."

"The Affordable Care Act made the Republican Party go insane," Newell writes. "It occupied the space of what had been the center-right vision for market-based health reform and combined it with a Medicaid expansion popular among progressives, boxing the party out from the area where consensus might be had."

This put Republicans in a difficult quandary, according to Newell's take.

"With that model—originally designed by a right-leaning think tank and first implemented by one of the party's former presidential candidates [Mitt Romney]—made unacceptable in order to demonize a sitting Democratic president, though, Republicans had a choice: a coherent far-right free market approach, or some amorphous blob of other," Newell continues. "They chose an amorphous blob of other, sliced up into muddled "prongs" in accordance with Senate rules. It failed."

Republicans balking on Trump's proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act is definitely a blow to the administration, but Trump and his allies have vowed to regroup and push the bill — or one very similar to it — again at a later date.

Sanders, unlike former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival in last year's primary, has long advocated for a single-payer Medicare-for-all healthcare plan modeled after what is offered in many other industrialized nations.

He reiterated the need for such a plan in his interview with Bash on Sunday, and said he plans to introduce such a bill in Congress.

— bernie sanders (@BernieSNewschan) March 26, 2017

On that issue, Sanders said he is willing to work with Trump.

"President Trump, come on board," Sanders said. "Let's work together. Let's end the absurdity of Americans paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs."

It might not be a bad idea for Trump to unite with Sanders on single-payer. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans support single-payer.

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]