Bernie Sanders in 1993: Health Care Shouldn’t Cost ‘Tens of Billions’ More or ‘Raise Taxes on Workers’


During a 1993 press conference, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that a national health care plan should not cost “tens and tens of billions,” and that it should not raise taxes on American workers.

The subject of the Jan. 25, 1993 presser was the early days of Bill Clinton‘s presidency, and Sanders brought up the issue of health care several times.

“Some of the major issues that the president’s administration and the Congress are going to have to wrestle with are beginning to be debated right now, deal with health care,” Sanders said, “and that is how do we create a national healthcare system which guarantees healthcare to all people, yet does not bankrupt this country by forcing us to spend tens intensive billions of dollars more?”

“Everybody knows our current healthcare system is disintegrating, it is a very bad system, everybody knows that we must have a system which guarantees health care to all people, and everybody knows that we’ve got a $300 billion deficit,” Sanders continued, and extolled the virtues of the Canadian and German health care systems.

Later in the presser, Sanders said he hoped that people would “stand up and they say yes let’s move toward a national healthcare system, guaranteed health care to all people, but the way to do it is to take on the insurance companies, the drug companies, the medical industrial complex, not to ask workers to pay more in taxes on their health care benefits.”

The senator went on to say that countries like Germany and Canada “have stood up to the private insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, to the doctors,” and added “you think about mental health in this country, psychiatrists get $200 an hour, alright, well you’re not going to cut the costs of health care with people earning that kind of money. Surgeons make millions of dollars a year in salary.”

Those remarks came before Hillary Clinton‘s national health care plan was crushed by a public relations campaign that included a leaked cost estimate of $100 billion a year, which did not consider offsets in savings from the plan.

Since then, Sanders’ plan has evolved to cost hundreds of times more than the tens of billions he spoke of then. Several studies have put the price tag for the plan at trillions of dollars per year, but also predicted significant reductions in overall spending on health care.

And Sanders’ plan does increase taxes on workers, as he conceded during the 2016 campaign, but which he says will be more than offset by the elimination of insurance premiums and other out-of-pocket costs.

Watch the video above, via Channel 17.

[Image via screengrab]

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