After Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma launched a nonsensical broadside against Medicare for All on Wednesday in a speech in California—declaring that "Medicare for All would become Medicare for None"—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday joined the large chorus denouncing Verma's remarks as an attack not just on single-payer, but also on Medicare itself.
"Medicare has worked extremely well for our nation's seniors and will work equally well for all Americans."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"It's extremely concerning that the person charged with administering Medicare would rather throw 32 million Americans off of health insurance than join every major nation and guarantee healthcare as a fundamental right," Sanders wrote on Twitter in response to Verma's claim that Medicare for All "would be the furthest thing from patient-centric care."
"Medicare is, by far, the most cost-effective, efficient and popular healthcare program in America," Sanders added in a statement to ABC News. "Medicare has worked extremely well for our nation's seniors and will work equally well for all Americans."
It's extremely concerning that the person charged with administering Medicare would rather throw 32 million Americans off of health insurance than join every major nation and guarantee health care as a fundamental right. https://t.co/JUvx6j5J9V
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 26, 2018
In a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Wednesday, Verma—who previously raked in millions as head of a major healthcare consulting firm—deployed familiar right-wing talking points to dismiss Medicare for All as "unaffordable" and "bad health policy."
What Verma didn't say is that America's current for-profit system consistently ranks as the most expensive and least humane in the industrialized world. By contrast, numerous analyses show that implementing a single-payer system in the U.S. would drive down costs and drastically enhance health outcomes.
Verma also conveniently neglected to mention recent surveys showing that a majority of Americans—and even a growing number of Republicans—support Medicare for All as the most desirable alternative to America's healthcare status quo, which places the profits of insurance and pharmaceutical companies over the public good and leaves tens of millions uninsured.
Seema Verma spent her career trying to create roadblocks to coverage for low-income Americans.
Today, she attacked #MedicareForAll: a plan that would guarantee healthcare to all Americans, saving lives & money.
— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) July 26, 2018
This is a lie. What does Verma think insurance companies do if not control the decisions pertaining to someone's coverage? In what world is the US providing anyone with "patient-centric care"? https://t.co/3mXSh98mQb
— Roqayah (@roqchams) July 26, 2018
"Seema Verma couldn't be more wrong," Eagan Kemp, a healthcare policy advocate for Public Citizen, wrote on Thursday in response to Verma's tweet. "We have already achieved guaranteed healthcare for seniors through Medicare. It is time to improve and expand Medicare and finally guarantee healthcare for everyone in America. We need Medicare for All."
The Nation's John Nichols added that Verma "has always placed the interests of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries ahead of those of patients. She is lying here on behalf of those industries."
Verma's attack on Medicare for All comes just days after more than 60 House Democrats launched the Medicare for All Caucus, an initiative that further demonstrates single-payer's growing popularity on Capitol Hill. So far, more than 70 House Democrats have joined the caucus, and that number is expected to grow quickly in the coming weeks.
"Healthcare cannot be a luxury that's only available for the wealthy and well-connected—it is a human right," declared Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who founded the Medicare for All Caucus alongside Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).