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Bernie Sanders Addresses Clinton's Attacks On His Health Care Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders promised to release the details of his health care plan very soon and responded to some of the recent attacks by the Clinton campaign over his proposal for single payer.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders promised to release the details of his health care plan very soon and responded once again to some of the recent attacks by the Clinton campaign over his proposal for single payer.

Sanders also addressed the media's attempt to paint him as some liberal who just wants to raise your taxes, ignoring the fact that the taxes would be replacing the health insurance premiums that everyone is currently paying now.

Expect that to fall on deaf ears and more headlines like this one from CNN describing this interview: Bernie Sanders would likely raise taxes to pay for universal health care.

Here's Sanders' full exchange with State of the Union host Jake Tapper on the subject from CNN this Sunday:

TAPPER: You and I are old enough to remember when Hillary Clinton was very protective of Chelsea Clinton. She's been involved in past Clinton campaigns.

But we have never seen her used to attack a Clinton opponent until this week, when she went after your health care plan.

I know that you respect Chelsea Clinton and that you believe she's just flat wrong to suggest your plan would take away people's health care and that she hasn't read it, but were you surprised that Chelsea Clinton was deployed in that way?

SANDERS: I was.

I mean, Chelsea Clinton is a very, very smart and capable young woman. I'm sure she loves her mother and she's trying to do everything she can to make sure her mom wins. That's pretty natural. I have got four kids, seven grandchildren. They're rooting for me.

But I was a little disappointed that what Chelsea said was simply not accurate. The issue that she was raising is that, in Republican conservative states, a Medicare-for-all bill would not be implemented. That's not accurate.

If a state does not go forward, under my 2013 legislation, the federal government steps in. Bottom line here, Jake, is the United States is the only major country on Earth does not guarantee health care to all people, and yet we spend much, much more per capita on health care than do the people of other countries.


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And we still have 29 million people uninsured and many more underinsured. So, yes, I will continue the vision of FDR, of Harry Truman. I believe health care is a right for all people. It will be politically difficult to achieve, but I will maintain that vision and fight for it. That's the goal I want to see.

TAPPER: And Hillary Clinton and her campaign keep going after you for it.

In response, you tweeted a photograph this week of you and Hillary Clinton in 1993 in which she thanked you for your commitment to -- quote -- "real access to health care for all Americans" -- unquote.

Is this your way of suggesting that Clinton's attacks today, as opposed to back then, that today's attacks are phony and insincere?

SANDERS: Well, the reason that we did that is what Secretary Clinton understands, is that I have, throughout my political life, believed that all Americans are entitled to health care.

And when her campaign attacks me as saying Sanders wants to dismember all of the health care plans that are out there, the ACA and the other plans, and leave millions of people uninsured, that is obviously not true. She has always done -- I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years.

We -- I, you know, have a lot of respect for her. But her campaign should not be suggesting that my ideas will leave millions of people without health insurance. In fact, the opposite is true. What I want to do is to make sure that every man, woman, and child in this country has health care.

I believe, Jake, we can do it in a much more cost-effective way than is currently the case. We are spending almost three times more than the British, 50 percent more than the French on health care per capita. They provide health care to all people. We can do a lot better.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about the single-payer health care plan proposal.

You said on this program on January 3 that you would release a plan on how to pay for it before the Iowa caucuses. You repeated that pledge on the night of the State of the Union address. We're now just two weeks and one day away. Are you prepared to release those health care details today?

SANDERS: Yes, as I said we would do it. And we will do that.

And here's the point that has to be made. My plan will save middle- class families thousands of dollars a year on their health care costs. We will not continue to see the drug campaigns in this country rip off the American people.

Last year, Jake, the three top drug companies in America made $45 billion in profits, while seniors can't afford the medicine they desperately need.

TAPPER: When...

SANDERS: That's pretty crazy stuff. We will deal with that.

TAPPER: When are we going to see these -- these -- the bottom line, how people -- how you're going to pay for this? When are we going to see those details?

SANDERS: Very shortly, very -- look, as you well know, I mean, I introduced in 2013 comprehensive legislation.

I think it was 150 pages. It's complicated stuff. But we said we will get it out, and we will get it out. In fact, we're going to get it out very shortly.

TAPPER: I guess the reason it's a point of contention is because you said in December that the only taxes you would raise on the middle class if you became president would be to fund your paid leave plan.

But when you have released single-payer health care plans in the past or advocated for them, they did include taxes that would hit the middle class, not because you wanted to, but because they were necessary to pay for it.

SANDERS: Well, if you consider a Medicare premium as a tax, you know, that's true. Health care is expensive.

But what we are doing -- and this is a point -- and it bothers me a little bit. Republicans often make this attack. And I'm hearing too much of it from the Clinton camp. We are eliminating private health insurance premiums.

You're not going to have to pay any. So, yes, Medicare premiums will, in fact, be there for all people. But, at the end of the day, the middle-class family, getting rid of all private health insurance premiums will save thousands of dollars a year in their health care costs. And I think most people will be appreciative.

The other point I want to make here, Jake, is, you know, the vision that we're fighting for here is one that went back to FDR, to Harry Truman. If Hillary Clinton were to say, look, this is a tough political fight, I agree with her. I'm not saying you're going to get this done the first two days of my presidency.

But I think we can rally the American people around two principles: Health care should be a right of all people. We should not be paying far more per capita than other countries on health care.

And that's the fight I'm prepared to wage.

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