Sanders on Funding Medicare for All: 'Right' to Say I May Raise Taxes

March 4, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) acknowledged Monday that "free" heath care isn't free and he may have to raise taxes to provide medical services to all Americans.

The 2020 presidential hopeful suggested during an appearance on "The Breakfast Club" radio show that at least a portion of current private health insurance spending would go toward taxes, which would fund government-run health care.

"It seems politicians, they say what everybody wants to here: 'Free tuition, lower taxes, legalizing marijuana.' But what's the plan?" asked co-host DJ Envy.

"I don't say lower taxes," Sanders said.

"Okay, but how are we going to do, you know, health care for all?" DJ Envy asked. "How are we going to implement those plans?"

"Right now, in terms of health care, we are spending almost twice as much per capita as any major country on earth," Sanders said.

He gave the example of Canada, where he said the government guarantees health care.

"Do you know how much it costs—God forbid somebody comes down with cancer, you go through all the surgery, all the chemotherapy—do you know how much you pay in Canada for all of that?" Sanders asked.

"Free," co-host Charlamagne tha God said.

Sanders acknowledged government-guaranteed health care is not actually free.

"That's right. Well, it's not free, somebody—it's paid for in the same way we pay for public education," Sanders said. "You don't come out with a nickel bill. I think that's the right thing to be."

Sanders argued the United States is already paying what it would cost for health care for all, as a result of an inefficient system, and he suggested the government would do it more effectively.

"Right now we are paying twice as much per capita for health care as they do in Canada because they don't have a system which enables the drug companies and the insurance companies to make huge profits. Their system is simpler. There is not all kinds of waste and bureaucracy," he said.

"A lot of over-charging, here," co-host Angela Yee said in agreement.

"A huge amount," Sanders said.

"So the criticism of Bernie Sanders is 'he's going to raise your taxes,'" he added. "Well I may, that's right. But you know what I'm doing? I'm doing away with all of your private health insurance premiums. I don't know how you guys work it, where you get your health care from. Somebody's paying for it, somebody's paying Blue Cross or United Health, alright. That's gone [under my plan]."

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found 58 percent of Americans oppose "Medicare for all" if it would eliminate private insurance plans and 60 percent oppose it if it requires higher taxes. The libertarian Mercatus Center projected Sanders's plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years and would also require enormous tax increases to replace what employers and consumers now pay for health care.