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Bernie Sanders and Nurses Tell Obama: Embrace Single-Payer Health Care

Sanders: We need to tell Obama that if he suppors a single-payer system, "he will have the backing of tens and tens of millions of Americans."

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Now, I think, on the other hand, what more and more Americans understand, what physicians understand, as Rose Ann indicated, what nurses understand, is that the current system is now dysfunctional. We are wasting close to $400 billion every single year on unnecessary administration, on high CEO compensation packages, on outrageous profits for the insurance industry. A few years ago, a guy named William McGuire of United Healthcare, he was given $1.6 billion in stock options at a time when 46 million Americans have no health insurance and the cost of healthcare is soaring. So, I think what more and more Americans understand is we need a fundamental overhaul of our system, we need one payer to provide comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare to all of our people.

 

But when you do that, when you move forward in that direction, you are challenging just enormously powerful special interests who have undue influence in Congress. So, what -- as Rose Ann indicated, that's just not a discussable issue. We'll push that off, and we'll figure out how we can tweak the system here, how we can tweak the system here, how we can help people get insurance, but not get to the basic reason as to why our system is so costly and wasteful.

Goodman: You're talking about tweaks. I want to talk about "tweets" in a minute. First, Saturday, President Obama, focusing on healthcare reform in his weekly radio address and internet address, which is now videotaped.

    Pres. Obama: Simply put, the status quo is broken. We cannot continue this way. If we do nothing, everyone's healthcare will be put in jeopardy. Within a decade, we'll spend $1 out of every $5 we earn on healthcare, and we'll keep getting less for our money. And that's why fixing what's wrong with our healthcare system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve; it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer.

     

    The growing consensus around that reality has led an unprecedented coalition to come together for change. Unlike past attempts at reforming our healthcare system, everyone is at the table: patients' advocates and health insurers, business and labor, Democrats and Republicans alike. A few weeks ago, some of these improbable allies committed to cut national healthcare spending by $2 trillion over the next decade.

     

    We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing healthcare costs. Now, some of these costs are the result of unwarranted profiteering that has no place in our healthcare system. And in too many communities, folks are paying higher costs without receiving better care in return.

Goodman: That was President Obama in his video and internet address. Senator Sanders, your response?

 

Sanders: I think the first part of his analysis is exactly right. The current cost of healthcare is unsustainable. It means not only large numbers of personal bankruptcies, a great deal of human suffering and unnecessary death. Amy, we have close to 20,000 people die every year in this country, six times more than who lost their lives on 9/11, because they don't have access to a doctor, and they can't get the medical care that they need. So I think his initial statement was correct, that this is unsustainable, from a personal point of view and from an economic point of view.

 

Unfortunately, the second part of his statement, when he talks about bringing the insurance companies in and bringing all these folks together and the drug companies, I'm afraid we've got a problem in there, because the insurance companies are the basic cause of the problem. You cannot have a cost-effective, quality healthcare system when the main function is to make billions and billions of dollars in profits for private insurance companies and drug companies.

 
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