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Bernie Sanders Makes Yuge Health Care Gaffe During First Minutes of His Campaign

Ten minutes into his 2020 presidential campaign, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made a gaffe that once earned President Barack Obama the un-coveted “Lie of the Year” prize.

On Tuesday morning’s edition of CBS This Morning, Sanders announced his intention to run for the Democratic presidential nomination during an interview with John Dickerson. Sanders spent a good chunk of the interview defending his Medicare for All plan, which Dickerson noted becomes significantly less popular when pollsters drill down on specifics.

“You’re offering something that the polling shows people can get very spooked very quickly about,” Dickerson said.

Sanders correctly noted “that’s because we’re gonna be taking on the insurance companies and the drug companies who are gonna spend a whole lotta money distorting what we believe in.”

But that’s where he ran into trouble, as Contemptor‘s Gary Legum pointed out.

“For example, they’re gonna say people, ‘You’re gonna lose your current health insurance [at] employment’,” Sanders said, then added, “Yeah, but you’re gonna have the same exact doctor, you’re gonna have more freedom of choice under our proposal than you have under the current proposals.”

As I’ve written before, however, this is even less true of Sanders’ plan than it was when Obama said it. Obama’s now-infamous “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” was mainly referring to the overwhelming majority of Americans who get their health insurance through work, and to a lesser extent, to those receiving insurance on the individual market. He was technically almost not incorrect, in that nothing in the law required any insurance company to drop any doctor, or vice versa, but neither did it guarantee that wouldn’t happen. It was, frankly, an unmakeable promise.

Under Sanders’s plan, though, every American’s health insurance would be replaced by Medicare, which means that some people would definitely lose their doctors because not all doctors accept Medicare. There’s also no telling how such a law would affect Medicare participation, meaning that even some current Medicare patients could be forced to switch doctors.

What’s especially egregious about this gaffe, though, is that Sanders has made it before, even though he was warned that this was Obama’s Lie of the Year. In September of 2017, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explained to Sanders, at great length, just what it was he was promising.

“You’re making a version of the infamous promise from President Barack Obama… If you like your doctor, you can keep it. You’re making that — you’re saying at the end of what is going to be a radical transformation of the health care system, let’s be clear, that if you like your doctor you can keep it. That’s a marker you’re laying down?” Hayes asked.

“The answer is yes,” Sanders replied.

Now, whether you think Sanders’ Medicare for All plan is a good idea or not, it is very much the case that if Sanders — or any candidate supporting this plan — wants to be honest with voters, they will have to acknowledge the massive potential for disruption, and then presumably explain why the disruption is worth it anyway.

Watch the clip above, via CBS.

[Image via screengrab]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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