The gloves just came off on Medicare for All.
Former Vice President Joe Biden tried to draw a bright line between himself and the two more-liberal senators to his left and right on healthcare.
“I know the senator said she’s for Bernie,” the former vice president said Thursday night on the debate stage in Houston, about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s support of Medicare for All. “Well, I’m for Barack.”
And when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fought back by arguing that healthcare costs in the U.S. are double those of countries like Canada, Biden muttered, “This is America.”
Through the 15-minute exchange in the third Democratic presidential debate, Biden continued to hammer Sanders and Warren on the cost of their healthcare plans, which will run an estimated $30 trillion, according to multiple think tanks. “How are we going to pay for it?” Biden asked. “I want to hear, tonight, how we’re going to pay for it.”
Biden’s healthcare plan, which would cost an estimated $750 billion, would add a public option to existing offerings under the Affordable Care Act.
Warren, defending Medicare for All, tried to make the argument that the plan would reduce costs overall for middle-class families while increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“What families have to deal with is cost. The total cost. That’s what they have to deal with,” Warren said. “Families pay every time an insurance companies says, ‘Sorry, you can’t see that specialist, [or] ‘Sorry, we’re not covering that prescription.’”
She continued: “On Medicare for All, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals. For hardworking families across this country, costs are going to go down, and that’s how it should work.”
And Sanders –– who “wrote the damn bill,” as he likes to say –– swatted back Biden’s claims that single-payer healthcare is too expensive, arguing that the U.S. will pay $50 trillion over a decade if the U.S. doesn’t make changes to its healthcare system.
And parroting one of his more popular lines, Sanders railed against an insurance system “that provides $100 billion in profit for the drug companies and insurance companies.”
Biden, dismissing the defense of Sanders and Warren, said, “If you noticed, he hasn’t answered the question.”
Cover: From left, presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are introduced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)