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Bypassing Major Networks, 1.6 Million Tune In for Sanders 'Medicare for All' Town Hall

Senator held online event to counter corporate media's coverage of healthcare, frequently "interrupted by commercials by the drug companies"

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hosted an online town hall meeting on his proposal for Medicare for All on Tuesday night. (Photo: @PrincepsTonza/Twitter)

Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) town hall on Medicare for All drew more than one million online viewers in addition to the hundreds of attendees who packed an auditorium at the U.S. Capitol to capacity.

Speaking with multiple panels featuring single-payer healthcare advocates and experts—including Dr. Don Berwick, who oversaw Medicare and Medicaid under President Barack Obama—Sanders moderated a nearly two-hour discussion about the failures of the current U.S. healthcare system and how its costs and outcomes compare to those in countries with universal healthcare.

When Sanders asked Berwick whether there is any legitimate economic reason not to expand Medicare to all Americans, he replied, "No, there's no reason. It's just will."

"You can stand up for people," Berwick added. "Why wouldn’t we do that for all Americans, not just people over 65?"

The discussion also covered the economic impact of Medicare for All. While Republicans have spent years pushing the narrative about high tax rates as a result of government-funded healthcare, owners of businesses large and small explained to the national audience the increasingly heavy financial burden that the for-profit system is putting on both their companies and their employees.

In his closing remarks, Sanders noted that a town hall broadcast exclusively online was necessary to provide viewers with the facts on Medicare for All. Although 53 percent of Americans now support government-funded healthcare for all, he said, corporate media outlets hardly cover the issue.

"The reason we're doing this program tonight is you don't see this stuff," he said. "It ain't gonna be on CBS. It ain't gonna be on NBC. What astounds me is we already have a pretty good majority of the American people who already believe in universal health care, believe that it is the government's responsibility to make sure that health care is a right. And we have reached that stage with media not talking about the issue at all."

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