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 "On Medicare for all, the middle class would be far better off because it would save taxpayers money," Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs said of Clinton's attack on the senator's healthcare proposal. (Photo: Michael Vadon/flickr/cc)

Hillary Clinton Attacks Bernie Sanders' Plan for Single-Payer Healthcare

Following Sanders' proposal is 'one thing we should not do,' Clinton said.

Andrea Germanos

Hillary Clinton took aim on Tuesday at Bernie Sanders' plan for a single-payer healthcare system.

She did not mention Sanders by name at a rally at a Dallas community college, instead saying, "One thing we should not do is follow a proposal that has been made by one of my opponents."

"I was actually the only one on that debate stage on Saturday who will commit to raising your wages and not your taxes," Clinton said, referring to the presidential debate. "I can't see how you can be serious about raising incomes if you also want to slap new taxes on them, no matter what the taxes would pay for." 

The Clinton campaign pointed to legislation Sanders introduced in 2013, and said it would mean tax increase on working families; while a strategist for his campaign team said that details for how his current proposal would be funded is delayed until they have a "fully costed analysis," his, and many health experts', position is that a single-payer plan would ultimately reduce inequality and ultimately save taxpayers money by putting healthcare security above corporate profits.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon added in a statement Tuesday, "If you are truly concerned about raising incomes for middle-class families, the last thing you should do is cut their take-home pay right off the bat by raising their taxes."

But the Sanders campaign shot back against that framing of the issue. Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs said Tuesday, "On Medicare for all, the middle class would be far better off because it would save taxpayers money."

"More people would get better care at less cost," he stated.

Briggs added that Clinton supports a system that "props up private insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies which have given so much money to her campaigns."

The Vermont senator has long advocated for a single-payer healthcare system, and reiterated that position during the debate Saturday. "I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, not a privilege," he said.

"We end up spending—and I think the secretary knows this—far more per capita on health care than any other major country, and our outcomes, health-care outcomes are not necessarily that good," he added.

Sanders' embrace of a single-payer system—also widely backed by the American public—earned him the endorsement of the National Nurses United (NNU), the nation's largest organization of nurses. NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said in August that his " issues align with nurses from top to bottom," including his "insist[ance] that healthcare for everyone is a right not a privilege."

In a statement released Wednesday, the NNU condemned Clinton's attack on single-payer.

"While the Affordable Care Act corrected some of the worst injustices in our insurance, profit-based healthcare system, the work of healthcare reform is far from done," stated NNU Co-President Jean Ross. "Today, 33 million Americans remain uninsured. Tens of millions more remain uninsured, facing bankruptcy due to unpayable medical bills or the choice of getting the care they need or paying for food or housing for their families."

"The only fix for our broken system once and for all is the prescription Bernie Sanders has so eloquently presented—joining the rest of the world by expanding and updating Medicare to cover every one," Ross said. 

John Geyman, a doctor with the Physicians for a National Health Program, wrote in September that a single-payer system "would bring our entire population more protection against the costs of healthcare, at a lower cost than we now pay, with more efficiency and fairness, while eliminating today’s narrow networks that restrict our choice of physicians, other health professionals, and hospitals. Opponents who decry its costs are distorting the issue as they try to perpetuate profit-driven markets at the expense of patients, their families, and taxpayers."


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