MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi said on Sunday that universal health care is not a "socialist" or even "liberal concept," claiming instead it is "actually a conservative idea."
In a discussion with Rep. Buddy Carter (R., Ga.) about the approaching coronavirus stimulus bill in Congress, Velshi argued that given the size of the stimulus, lawmakers should reconsider universal health care as a viable alternative to the present system.
"You're talking to a Canadian," Velshi said. "I'm just guessing here, top of my head, 58 countries in the world, all of which are highly developed countries, have universal medicine—many of which were brought in by conservative governments, actually a conservative idea. In the United States, it was first floated as a conservative idea. In Massachusetts, it was done by a Republican conservative governor who's now a member of the Senate. Universal health care is not at all a liberal concept. It's not a socialist concept at all."
Velshi was referring to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who in 2006 passed a health care reform law in the state which mandated a minimum level of health insurance coverage for every resident.
Velshi was responding to Carter, who said he did not want the government to implement Medicare for All in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Universal health care has been pushed by some progressive politicians over the last few weeks as the United States heads into an economic slump brought on by the nation's rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered businesses, furloughed workers, and isolated people across the country. During last week's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) promoted his signature Medicare for All proposal, which would eliminate private health insurance, arguing the current health care system is not "prepared to provide health care to all people." Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has also called for Medicare for All in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past, Sanders has lauded universal health care in European countries as a success of "socialism," describing his own political platform—which includes Medicare for All—as "democratic socialism."
The Senate and House of Representatives have been in heated talks for the past week, passing multiple coronavirus stimulus packages for affected industries and citizens. The most recent talks, which are still ongoing, have centered on a universal stimulus in the form of checks mailed out to all U.S. citizens. The stimulus package could top $2 trillion.