Health Care Video

Bernie Sanders in 1987: Medicaid for everyone would bankrupt the nation

In a 1987 interview, Bernie Sanders states that giving Medicaid to everyone would cost so much that it would bankrupt America. Why does he advocate the opposite today? I joined Liz Wheeler on OANN to discuss.


Liz Wheeler: Senator Bernie Sanders thinks healthcare is a right. And the only answer he says to our broken healthcare system is a government run single payer system. But doesn’t Senator Sanders remember, saying in 1987 that a single payer system like Canada would bankrupt our country.

There are two points to be made here.

First of all Senator Sanders is just a politician. He identifies a proudly as a socialist. He wants to but government in charge of our health care, and that’s a dangerous, socialist prospect: to allow politicians who have power and money at stake to make our health care decisions.

We’ve seen where that’s taken. Venezuela and Cuba. How the United Kingdom and Canada have been forced to ration treatment due to high costs shouldered by the government. And what happened to Charlie Guard when government, instead of his parents, dictated his medical care.

Secondly, Senator Sanders admitted on video in 1987 that a Medicaid for all system would face astronomical costs. He said it would bankrupt our nation.

Why then would Senator Sanders want to bring that kind of system here to the United States now?

This is Senator Sanders back in 1987. Watch:

Bernie Sanders: “You want to guarantee that all people have access to health care as you do in Canada. But I think that unless we understand that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanisms of this country to do that. For example, if we expanded Medicaid. Everybody. Give everybody a Medicaid card. We would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation.”

Liz Wheeler: Joining me now, attorney and Republican strategist Gayle Trotter. Gayle, good see you.

Gayle Trotter: Great to be with you, Liz!

Liz Wheeler: Alright, Gayle, let’s start with this question of the day today. I absolutely love videos like this. We talk about a video of this nature. Yesterday it caught Elizabeth Warren on tape being honest about being the top one percent. This one’s got Bernie Sanders saying in 1987 that a Medicaid for all system would bankrupt our country. Gayle,  what on earth has changed between 1987 and now that Bernie Sanders is advocating from Medicare for all system.

Gayle Trotter: Right. Well Washington DC politicians have a very short memory, but the internet does not and that is the beauty of our system is that we are able to look back at the statements of politicians and do exactly what you said to put the question to them: what has changed in our policies and in the status of patients in our health care system that can possibly justify Bernie Sanders change in position from understanding the economic ramifications of a Medicaid program for all to advocating, as he did on CNN, for a Medicare program for all? The only things that have changed are that we have moved towards government controlled health care through Obamacare, and we have seen that that has resulted in skyrocketing premiums and collapse of marketplace. We have millions of Americans who are paying a penalty rather than them accepting the government insured insurance policy. So if anything, certainly things have shown through our experimentation with Obamacare that Bernie Sanders was right then and he is wrong now.

Liz Wheeler: Right, which just makes it all this, I guess sketchier, that’s the word that I’m going to use, it’s just sketchy now that he wants to 30 years later enact a policy that he was so sure would bankrupt our country at that point. And listen, I share Senator Sanders frustration that he expressed during that health care town hall with Republicans not presenting plans. I mean obviously I philosophically differ with Senator Sanders, but it’s astonishing to me how inept the Republicans are after promising for seven years campaigning on the repeal of Obamacare, even passing bills to repeal Obamacare under President Obama, when they knew it would be vetoed and then they’re not able to do it now when they have a Republican-controlled House or Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican President who is willing and eager to sign this bill into law. It’s absolutely astounding to me.

Gayle Trotter: Yes, this is the latest frustrating chapter in health policy reform in this country. And when you think about the Republican’s uniform promises over the last seven years that they would repeal Obamacare root and branch. And they use that as justification for gaining power: the majority-ship in the House in 2010, Power: the majority-ship in the Senate in 2014 and then surprisingly (for a lot of people) being able to win the presidency in 2016 against the inevitable candidate Hillary Clinton, and yet they have been unable to pass what they promised the voters that they would pass. But I don’t think people should be pessimistic. I think that the Democrats strategy is they get one step closer and closer to socialized medicine and they don’t give up. I think Republicans have to do this as well and not just use this as an excuse to throw up their hands and embrace single payer.

Liz Wheeler: No, I agree with you, and I guess I count me as one of the ones who needed to pep talk because I feel so frustrated, is the word that comes to mind, but so so frustrated that the Republican GOP, that they’ve had all this time to do it and they failed. It’s like they forget who they went to Washington to serve. They forget that we sent them there for a reason. They forget that we sent them there because they promise to repeal Obamacare, therefore it’s their responsibility to us, to our votes, to actually carry their promise through and they haven’t done. Let me go back to something you said. You mentioned socialized medicine during the town hall last night, I believe it was Senator Lindsey Graham mentioned that this was socialism, that Bernie Sanders plan was socialized medicine. Bernie Sanders denied that, he said no it’s not socialism. But correct to the record here, Gayle, if you would, if the government is in charge of our health care, if we have a public option or single payer system, is that socialism?

Gayle Trotter: Absolutely. And he is misleading people to say that it’s not. I would agree with Bernie Sanders said that health care is a right, but when you think of the examples of Charlie Guard in England, whose parents wanted to pay out of their own pocket for medical care for their child and they were not only denied by the health care system of Britain to pay for that treatment, but they were told that they couldn’t even pay out of their own pocket. if that does not explain a socialized medical system, I don’t know what does. And when you look at people like Bernie Sanders, they’re saying that our health care system is deficient in comparison to Canada and Britain, and yet that is the logical conclusion of socialized medicine is that you lose the right to determine your choices in health care.

The logical conclusion of socialized medicine is that you lose the right to determine your choices in health care.

Liz Wheeler: Right, and that’s exactly what Senator Cassidy was saying last night. He was saying that plan that they had, the Graham-Cassidy bill that would have given power back to the states. It would have given the power of health care, medical decisions back to the patients instead of bureaucrats. And no one listens to it, no one listened to him because Bernie Sanders is offering healthcare for free. But go back, let me push back on a point that you made. You said health care is a right. Let me ask you, how can health care be right if we say that government can’t get involved in it because if health care is a right, then by nature of the structure of our government that would allow government to come in and tell providers, listen, you have to provide health care for these people, regardless of whether they pay. It would tell it would require government telling people, listen, we’ll pay for this, you don’t have to pay for it yourself because you shouldn’t have to pay for rights. How do you justify that?

Gayle Trotter: That’s a great point, but think of all of our other civil rights like the First Amendment, I have a right to free speech, but I don’t have a right to force someone else to pay for it. I can’t force CNN to let me go on their airs and advocate for my freedom of speech, for the points that I want to make. Similarly under the Second Amendment, I have a right to keep and bear arms, but that does not mean that I can go into a gun store and require the gun store owner to provide me with a with a gun to defend myself with. Similarly, I can’t expect the government to provide that for me as well. So when we talk about health care rights, the focus of conservatives is that the right of health care that we have is the ability to contract with doctors and to be able to choose to make decisions about something that is fundamentally a part of who we are as individuals. And whether or not government pays for that is something that we have to decide. When you talk about health care being a right, it’s about our rights as individual patients and consumers and not about government control and dictating to us what we can and cannot do.

When you talk about health care being a right, it’s about our rights as individual patients and consumers and not about government control and dictating to us what we can and cannot do.

Liz Wheeler: Right, it’s about access, similar to the rest of our rights. Gayle, thanks so much! I appreciate you coming on the show. It was great to talk to you.