Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Wednesday unapologetically defended his government-run “Medicare-for-all” campaign proposal against critics opposed to wiping out private health insurance, while announcing plans to lead a caravan to Canada to buy cheaper medicine than available in the U.S.
Sanders’ campaign billed the speech in Washington as an opportunity to confront the Democratic opponents of “Medicare-for-all,” challenge the insurance and drug industry and call on Democrats to unite around the policy.
Speaking at George Washington University, the Democratic-socialist called it an “international embarrassment” that the United States doesn’t guarantee health care to all its people. He dismissed the concern that a single-payer system like “Medicare-for-all” would end private health care plans.
“I have never met one person who loves their insurance company,” Sanders said. “I have met many people who do love their doctors and their nurses and have very good experiences in their hospitals.”
Under his plan, Sanders argued, patients can still go to their doctors and hospitals but they won’t “have to anymore deal with rip-off insurance companies.”
During the speech, Sanders said that in two weeks he plans to lead a group of Americans with type 1 diabetes on a bus trip to Canada to purchase insulin at lower prices than available in the United States.
The purpose of the trip, he said, is to tell “the pharmaceutical industry their greed is going to end, that under ‘Medicare-for-all’ there will be a cap for what people will have to pay for medicine and that we are going to significantly -- and underline the word significantly -- lower prescription drug costs in America.”
“We are tired of getting ripped off,” he said.
In his speech, Sanders called on his Democratic rivals to reject campaign donations from the insurance and drug industries.
Vice President Joe Biden, another Democratic presidential candidate, announced a plan Monday to add a “public option” to the 2010 ObamaCare health care law, while expressing opposition to the “Medicare-for-all” single-payer health care system that’s backed by most of his top rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I understand the appeal to ‘Medicare-for-all,” Biden said. “But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of ObamaCare. And I’m not for that. I was very proud the day I stood there with Barack Obama and he signed that legislation.”