Defending his signature health care proposal at the Democratic primary debate Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders shut down attacks on Medicare for All as ill informed: He is the final authority on it, because, he declared ringingly, “I wrote the damn bill.”
In the historically union-friendly city of Detroit, CNN anchor and debate moderator Jake Tapper asked Sanders if he could guarantee that benefits under his Medicare for All plan would be as good as the benefits union members fought to negotiate.
“They will be better because Medicare for All is comprehensive,” Sanders said. “It covers all health care needs. For senior citizens, it will finally include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses.”
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio interrupted the second part of Sanders’s answer, saying, “But you don’t know that. You don’t know that, Bernie.”
Bernie shot back at Ryan: “I do know it. I wrote the damn bill.” The audience responded with thunderous applause.
About 600,000 union workers in Michigan would be forced to give up their private insurance under Sanders’s plan, according to a figure cited by Tapper. Ryan and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, both moderate Democrats, criticized the universal health care plan supported by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as unrealistic and harmful to unions that have fought to win better benefits.
Sanders defended his record of support of unions, saying he’s more pro-union than any other candidate on the debate stage. He argued that if Medicare for All is passed, union workers will be able to focus on fighting for higher wages instead of bargaining for better health care benefits.
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