As private equity vultures move toward closing Hahnemann University Hospital, which serves as a lifeline for tens of thousands of poor Philadelphians, Sen. Bernie Sanders joined a rally outside the facility on Monday and condemned the effort to shutter the hospital as corporate greed at its worst.
"How many people will in fact die if this hospital is shut down? We say human life is more important than corporate profits."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"This is not a question of economics. This is a question of basic human morality," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told a crowd of approximately 1,500 hospital workers and activists amid reports that Hahnemann could close as early as next month.
To prevent private equity tycoons from buying up and closing struggling hospitals like Hahnemann around the nation, Sanders announced during the rally that he plans to introduce legislation in the Senate to create a $20 billion fund that would allow states and local communities to purchase "hospitals that are in financial distress."
Helen Gym, a Philadelphia city councilwoman, tweeted Monday that there are "48 other hospitals in Pennsylvania in worse shape than Hahnemann right now."
"If Hahnemann falls, the rest will follow," said Gym. "We won't let that happen."
After his remarks, Sanders told CNN's Ryan Nobles that Medicare for All would prevent situations like the Hahnemann closure because it "would not be based on a system of profiteering."
.@BernieSanders told me a Medicare 4 All system would prevent hospital closures like this one, because it “would not be based on a system of profiteering.” Several Dem candidates - specifically @JoeBiden- have plans that rely still on for-profit insurance & private hospitals. pic.twitter.com/eLeaBE0q14
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— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) July 15, 2019
Sanders, the only presidential candidate to join the demonstration at Hahnemann, said the planned closure of the facility is "not just a Philadelphia issue, it is not a Vermont issue, it is a national issue."
"How many people will in fact die if this hospital is shut down?" Sanders asked. "We say human life is more important than corporate profits."
"We should not be talking about shutting down a major hospital and converting that property into hotels or condos," added Sanders. "This is not a complicated issue. It is a question of getting our priorities right."
Watch Sanders's remarks: