Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, pitched his vision for the future of health care countrywide at a Fox News town hall Monday night and was met with cheers from the audience.
After Sanders explained why he would rather have the federal government provideing health insurance than private companies, Fox News anchor Bret Baier decided to pose the question to the audience. The audience, Baier said, included a lot of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), suggesting that some might reject Sanders’ pitch.
“How many get it from private insurance?” Baier asked an audience in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Nearly everyone raised their hands. “Of those, how many are willing to transition to what the senator says, a government-run system?” he asked. Again, many raised their hands — no boos and hisses were heard, and many cheered.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 15, 2019
The common assumption is that many people aren’t willing to abandon their current health plans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, support for Medicare for All drops significantly when people learn it eliminates private insurance companies. Conservatives push this point often, frequently repeating former President Barack Obama’s familiar line from his early days of pitching the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to the public: “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” The refrain has become an anti-Obamacare talking point, with PolitiFact calling it the “lie of the year” because plans that didn’t meet the new rules were outlawed.
The notion that most people want to keep their current health care plans has been used to attack Sanders’ newest Medicare for All proposal, which would move every U.S. resident into a single government-run plan with comprehensive benefits and no premiums.
“Medicare for all legislation will disrupt coverage and care, eliminate choice, competition and control, and force families to pay more,” the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a health coalition, tweeted about Sanders‘ proposal the day he re-released it.
The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is a coalition comprised of over a dozen industry groups with a lot of influence on Capitol Hill. It maintains that the public would rather keep and improve upon the current health-care system. But Monday’s Fox News audience didn’t appear to agree after listening to Sanders.
Fox News, which has attacked Medicare for All in the past, gave Sanders a significant amount of time to talk about his hopes for Medicare for All.
In reality, millions of people already lose or have to switch their health insurance — and not just every year, as Sanders said during the town hall, but every month. People often lose or have to find new coverage because they leave job that provide their insurance benefit, and at least 2 million U.S. workers lose or move into new private health plans every month, according to Axios.
“This is not new. What we’re talking about, actually, is stability,” Sanders said at the town hall. “That when you have a Medicare for All, it is there now and will be there in the future.”