Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) had a sharp exchange over their differing health care plans at Sunday's NBC debate, with Clinton fiercely defending the Affordable Care Act as she continues seeking the title of President Obama's successor.
Clinton was asked by Andrea Mitchell if it was fair to say, as she has charged, that Sanders wanted to “kill” Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, with his universal health care plan. However, Sanders voted for Obamacare as a member of the U.S. Senate.
“When you're talking about health care, the details really matter, and therefore we have been raising questions about the nine bills that he introduced over 20 years as to how they would work and what would be the impact on people's health care,” Clinton said.
Clinton said the Democratic Party worked since the Harry Truman administration to get the Affordable Care Act passed.
“I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it,” Clinton said.
Sanders retorted that Clinton failed to answer Mitchell's question, calling the charge made that he wanted to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid “nonsense.”
“What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right,“ Sanders said.
However, Sanders pointed out, despite what he viewed as Obamacare's assets, 29 million people were still without health care in the U.S.
Clinton came back with a strong defense of Obama's signature domestic legislation.
“I have to say I'm not sure whether we're talking about the plan you just introduced tonight or we're talking about the plan you introduced nine times in the congress, but the fact is we have the Affordable Care Act,” Clinton said. “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.”
To “tear it up and start over again,” Clinton said, and re-ignite a “contentious debate” was the wrong path to take for the next president.
“No one is tearing this up,” Sanders said. “We are going to go forward. But what the secretary neglected to mention, not just the 29 million that still have no health insurance, that even more are underinsured with huge co-payments and deductibles.”
Sanders said the true vision of the Democratic Party's standard-bearers was Medicare for all.