Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) tussled during Sunday night’s Democratic debate over healthcare, with Clinton painting Sanders’ proposals as unproductive and Sanders blasting Clinton’s attacks as “nonsense.”
Clinton argued that Sanders’ single-payer plan — details of which he released hours before the debate’s start — would undermine those who want to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.
“We finally have a path to universal healthcare,” she said. “We’ve accomplished so much already. I do not want to see the Republicans repeal it. And I don’t want to see us start over again with a contentious debate.”
Sanders accused Clinton of dodging the issue at hand, which he said was her campaign’s attacks against his plan.
“Secretary Clinton didn’t answer your question. Because what her campaign was saying: ‘Bernie Sanders … he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the Children’s Health Insurance Program.’ That is nonsense!” he said.
He added: “What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country healthcare for every man, woman, and child as a right!”
Clinton’s campaign had framed Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan as one that would get rid of other, popular healthcare programs. A number of liberal critics said they found Clinton’s attack as disingenuous, as anyone who lost their coverage would then be covered by Sanders’ alternative.
The former secretary of state didn’t back down on Sunday, however. She responded to Sanders by defending Obamacare, which she said would have to be scrapped for Sanders’ plan.
“The fact is we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country. And we have already seen 19 million Americans get insurance,” she said.
Clinton added: “To tear it up and start over again, pushing our country into that kind of contentious debate, I think is the wrong direction.”
Sanders jabbed back by saying Clinton’s argument was “absolutely inaccurate.”
“No one is tearing this up,” he said. “We’re not going to tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicare-for-all system.”
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