Sanders on Transition to Single-Payer Health Care System: ‘There Will Be Pain’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) acknowledged Thursday "there will be pain" with a transition to his dream of a single-payer health care system in the United States.

After CNN host Chris Cuomo said Sanders would "destroy the profit model" of the health care industry with his "Medicare for all" model, Sanders retorted his plan was not a radical one.

"The function of a rational health care system is to provide health care to all people in a cost-effective way," Sanders said.

He said hospital workers in the "billing" department would lose their jobs under his system.

"You have people hounding doctors about what kind of medicine they should be able to use," Sanders said. "Will those people lose their jobs when we have healthcare-for-all guaranteed through a single-payer system? The answer is yes. On the other hand, we have a lack of doctors in this country, a lack of nurses, a lack of nurse practitioners, a lack of dentists."

"We are an aging population," he added. "We need more people working with our older people. We will create more jobs under a rational Medicare-for-all system than currently exists. There will be a transition, just in the same way, Chris, as we have to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. We create more jobs, but there will be pain, and you got to deal with that pain."

As he's done before, he batted Cuomo's concern over skyrocketing taxes to pay for the expensive single-payer program, saying tax hikes would be more than offset by the the elimination of private health insurance premiums.

The left-wing icon battled Cuomo over his proposed "Medicare for all" program, which has received support from potential 2020 White House contenders like Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.).

Sanders dismissed Cuomo's reference to a government-run health care system as "socialized medicine."

"I think it is clear that we need health care that guarantees quality care to every man, woman and child in this country," he said. "Lowers the cost of prescription drugs and expands primary health care in America. Today, we have the most expensive system per capita in the world by far."

Cuomo noted Canada—a country Sanders points to as a model because of its universal health care system—has issues with drug pricing, with many people requiring supplemental policies. Sanders acknowledged it was true but called Canada's failure to cover prescription drugs one of its weaknesses.

"Only in America can the drug companies charge you any price they want for the drugs you desperately need, meaning millions of people cannot afford the medicine they require," Sanders said.