Bernie Sanders and Nurses Tell Obama: Embrace Single-Payer Health Care
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Goodman:Well, before you go to what -- how Senator Baucus justified excluding them, let's hear a clip from one of the Senate Finance Committee hearings where the doctors and nurses and others were arrested one by one.
Sen. Chuck Grassley: Mr. Chairman --
SUE CANNON: The people at this table have failed Americans for thirty years.
Sen. Max Baucus: Committee in order. We will stand in recess until the police can restore order.
Sue Cannon: We want single payer at this table. Healthcare is a human right. We want guaranteed healthcare. No more Blue Cross's double crosses. We want guaranteed healthcare. No more Aetna or -- thank you. No more Aetna or CIGNA bosses. We want guaranteed healthcare. We want to see our doctors when we need and get our pills that are guaranteed. We're tired of private insurance greed.
Goodman: One of the thirteen people who are calling themselves the Baucus 13 at one of the raucous Baucus caucuses. Rose Ann DeMoro, how did Senator Baucus explain himself, why these voices were excluded?
DeMoro: Well, his demeanor was somewhat apologetic. He actually had said he regretted not having single payer at the table.
But what was the most interesting to me, and it was particularly upon reflection, was that what he said was, "Barack Obama wants a victory." And he said it to us in such a way that later I realized it was as though he was saying, "Didn't you get the memo?" I mean, we're all supposed to be -- we're all supposed to fall in line here.
And I realized, with the exception of Senator Sanders, that there's been this conspiracy of silence, ultimately, that everyone's participated in. The Obama administration has been very adept at getting the institutional players who have premier health insurance at the table to talk about what the rest of America gets. And ultimately, they're -- it's an intentionality with respect to excluding the voice of millions, or the majority, of Americans who have either inadequate healthcare, no healthcare. And ultimately, we're not welcome into the debate, which is absurd.
And so, the registered nurses and physicians across this nation are outraged. And they see what happens with this disgraceful insurance industry at the apex of power, and they see that basically this is a sham. I mean, what's going on in Washington, DC, is basically a disgrace. And Senator Baucus was -- I think he was actually somewhat dumbfounded about the fact that he found himself in the middle of what appears to be a struggle between the people now, the voices of the people, and the Obama administration. That's the feeling that I really very much came away with.
Goodman: Senator Bernie Sanders, how has it happened that single-payer voices have been excluded? And this week, as President Obama makes a major push for healthcare, for some kind of public plan, what is your assessment of it?
Sen. Bernie Sanders: Well, I think Rose Ann is right in her assessment. Single payer has been excluded, because if we are successful through a single payer effort in providing quality, comprehensive, universal healthcare to every man, woman and child, there are no more private insurance companies in this country, and the prices that the pharmaceutical industry charges us -- charge us will go down. So you have the drug companies, the insurance companies, the medical equipment suppliers, who today make huge amounts of money, billions and billions of dollars, off of healthcare, fighting us in an unrelentless way through lobbying, campaign contributions, and advertising to make sure that the system -- the function of the system is to make profits for the private insurance companies rather than quality healthcare to all people. And, Amy, you cannot begin to imagine the power of these special interests who spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions on the process.