Sen. Bernie Sanders on The Situation Room discussing his recent article at The Huffington Post, Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege. From the arti
June 14, 2009

Sen. Bernie Sanders on The Situation Room discussing his recent article at The Huffington Post, Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege. From the article:

Let's be clear. Our health care system is disintegrating. Today, 46 million people have no health insurance and even more are underinsured with high deductibles and co-payments. At a time when 60 million people, including many with insurance, do not have access to a medical home, more than 18,000 Americans die every year from preventable illnesses because they do not get to the doctor when they should. This is six times the number who died at the tragedy of 9/11 - but this occurs every year.

In the midst of this horrendous lack of coverage, the U.S. spends far more per capita on health care than any other nation - and health care costs continue to soar. At $2.4 trillion dollars, and 18 percent of our GDP, the skyrocketing cost of health care in this country is unsustainable both from a personal and macro-economic perspective.

His interview with Wolf Blitzer below the fold where the good Senator showed just exactly how any question that is prefaced with "here's what Karl Rove writes", should be answered.

BLITZER: And joining us now, the Independent senator from the state of Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

SANDERS: It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: You just wrote this -- and I'll read it and put I up on the screen:

"I think the evidence is overwhelming that we must end the private insurance company domination of health care in our country and move toward a publicly funded, single payer, Medicare-for-all approach."

You want a nationalized health care system in this country.

SANDERS: No, not a nationalized. I want a national health insurance program which will continue to have privately funded doctors and non-profit hospitals.

The fact of the matter is, our current system is disintegrating. You've got 46 million without any health insurance. More are underinsured. We have 60 million Americans who do not have access to a doctor on a regular basis. 20,000 Americans die every single year because they don't get the medical care they should be getting, and you know what, Wolf? At the end of the day we spend almost twice as much per person on health care as any other major countries, all of which have national health insurance programs.

Does that make a lot of sense to you?

BLITZER: So you want to get rid of all of the insurance companies that deal with private health care insurance whether United Healthcare, or Kaiser Permanente --

SANDERS: Oh, United.

BLITZER: You want the government to take over the health insurance business?

SANDERS: Exactly.

And that's different that socialized medicine. That's a public health insurance program not dissimilar from what Canada has.

United Health Insurance. A couple of years ago the head of that company was a guy named William McGuire. He received $1.6 billion in stock options. Now, do you think that's a cost effective way of putting money into health care? We don't have enough primary health care doctors -- one guy has $1.6 billion.

BLITZER: President Obama, as you know, he makes the point repeatedly that under any health care reform that he wants -- if you like -- millions of people have health insurance and they like their insurance policies, they like their doctors. He says, if you like what you have right now you can keep on doing exactly that. Why is he wrong?

SANDERS: He's not wrong. He's exactly right.

All that we're changing -- we're not telling people they should go to a different doctor. We're not telling people they don't have a free choice --

BLITZER: But you're telling them they should go to a different health insurance company.

SANDERS: Do you think people are saying, Oh, my God. I want a freedom of choice of hundreds of health insurance companies? That's not what they're saying. They're saying, I want to go to the doctor that I want to go to. I want to go to the hospital --

BLITZER: But there are a lot of people that don't trust the federal government to do a good job managing their health insurance.

SANDERS: Well, I would tell you this. That far more people look favorably on the Veteran's Administration, look favorably upon Medicare or on Medicaid than they do on the private health insurance system.

People detest -- you know, one of the reasons in my view that Obama is president -- you remember during his campaign he said in so many words, my mom was struggling with cancer, she eventually died. And she didn't -- she had to use half her energy to deal with getting claims from the private insurance companies. Let's be clear. The function of a private insurance company is not to provide health insurance. It's not to provide health care. Its goal is to make as much money as it can and you do that by denying people health insurance.

BLITZER: Here's what Karl Rove writes in the "Wall Street Journal" on Thursday. He says, "If Democrats enact a public option health insurance program, America is on their way to becoming a European-style welfare state."

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. Well, I mean, the credibility of Karl Rove, who was Bush's guy for eight years leaves something to be desired.

In my humble opinion, George Bush will go in down history as one of the worst presidents we've ever had. And he was advised ably in that regard by Karl Rove. So, what Rove says isn't terribly important to me.

Let's talk about so-called "European-welfare states." Every one of those countries has a national health care program and you know what? Not only is their health system more cost-effective, but what ends up happening, they do a lot better in terms of health care outcomes.

We are 37th in the world, in terms of infant mortality. Do you think that's a good record?

BLITZER: Not if you listen to some of the commercials that are already running. A group called Conservatives for Patients Rights is already airing this commercial. Listen and watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have cancer in the U.K. today, you're going to die quicker than any other country in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that national health service has let me down because I feel that if I had asked -- if I had had a (INAUDIBLE) when I'd asked one originally, I wouldn't have just gone through everything that I've been through now. And I feel that them raising the age limit has pretty much signed my death warrant.


BLITZER: All right. You hear those horror stories --

SANDERS: Oh! Wait a minute. Are these conservative people representing the insurance companies going to be putting ads on the television?

BLITZER: You know there's going to be a lot of buzz --

SANDERS: Of course they are. That's the reason why we are the only major country without a national health insurance company. An actual health insurance program.

Because the insurance companies are going to spend part of our health care doctors on lobbying and advertising and campaign contributions to the tune over a period of years of hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't see the ad out there, talking about the 20,000 Americans who die every single year because they don't have access to a doctor in a proper way.

Is there a problem with the British system? Of course there is. Do you know what the differential is in spending per person in the United States and Great Britain? It's about three to one. We could do much better than the British do. We can do better than the Canadians do. None of these guys have an answer about why we spend so much on health care and we get so little value in return.

BLITZER: Senator Sanders, I'm sure you'll be at the forefront of this debate that's going to be unfolding over the next several weeks and months.

Thanks for coming in.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

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