Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday said the U.S. federal government should expand Medicare to everyone in the nation "out of an abundance of caution"—repurposing a phrase White House officials used to explain President Donald Trump's brief stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received a level of care that is systematically denied Americans who lack the means to pay for it.
New York Times reporter Sarah Kliff estimated Tuesday that Trump's trip to and three-day stint at Walter Reed—which included a cocktail of experimental treatments and frequent testing—would have cost the typical American more than $100,000, not to mention "significant surprise bills and medical debt even after health insurance paid its share."
"Mr. Trump did not have to worry about the costs of his care, which are covered by the federal government," Kliff noted. "Most Americans, including many who carry health coverage, do worry about receiving medical care they cannot afford. For some Americans, the bills could start mounting with frequent tests. Insurers are generally required to pay for those tests when physicians order them, but not when employers do."
"Out of an abundance of caution," we should expand Medicare to cover everyone in America.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 7, 2020
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"Mr. President: You attack 'socialized medicine' every single day. Well, let's be clear," the Vermont senator tweeted Tuesday. "The excellent care you received at Walter Reed was at a 100% government-funded, government run hospital. For Trump, 'socialized medicine' is bad for everyone but himself. Total hypocrisy!"
In August, as Common Dreams reported, Sanders introduced legislation that would impose a 60% tax on the massive profits U.S. billionaires have raked in during the coronavirus pandemic and use the resulting revenue to empower Medicare to pay all out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in the country for a year.
"My bill to tax 60% of the wealth gains billionaires made during the pandemic would increase Trump's taxes by $240 million and provide healthcare to all," Sanders said Wednesday. "Instead, Trump paid just $750 in taxes and received 100% government funded healthcare he ridicules as 'socialized medicine.' Sad."