Sanders: ‘Get Rid of the Insurance Companies’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Tuesday said that only eliminating all health insurance companies would guarantee lower costs for Americans.

Speaking with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Sanders explained that marginal or incremental improvements to the nation's healthcare system, even those widely supported by the Democrats, were unacceptable to him.

Hayes asked Sanders about the Democrats' proposal to further subsidize the healthcare system. On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) introduced legislation in conjunction with several top Democratic committee chairmen.

The piecemeal legislation stops far short of the progressive "Medicare for all." It represents "a more incremental approach toward fulfilling those campaign promises," according to the New York Times. "Building on the Affordable Care Act, they would offer more generous subsidies for the purchase of private health insurance offered through the health law's insurance exchanges while financing new efforts to increase enrollment."

"Do you support the legislation the House produced today," Hayes asked Sanders.

"No," Sanders replied. "I support the single-payer Medicare for all program."

"Wait, wait I just want to be clear," Hayes said. "So you don't support that incremental reform?"

"No," Sanders said again. "The incremental reform that I support is phasing in Medicare-for-all."

"So if that House bill were to come to the Senate, you would vote against it?"

Sanders would not allow it.

"Look, right now we are working on what I have fought for my entire life," he said. "Health care is a right. It has to be publicly funded, it has to be comprehensive." He claimed that putting the entire American healthcare system in government hands would lower administrative costs. This would require funding the entire enterprise "through public funding."

That proposal is expected to cost some additional $32 trillion.

Hayes asked Sanders if he supported giving Americans the "option" of "buying into Medicare rates," or whether he would force all Americans onto the government plan irrespective of their preferences.

Sanders replied that the only way to have "cost-effective healthcare" was to manage healthcare like the public school system. The way to do that, Sanders said, is to "get rid of the insurance companies" outright.

Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, hopes to become president in 2020.