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In a new sign of lingering tensions from the 2016 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton has dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for a single-payer healthcare system.
In an interview published Wednesday, Ezra Klein of Vox asked Clinton, who defeated Sanders to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, what she thought of the independent Vermont senator’s Medicare-for-all plan, which he is set to release later Wednesday.
“Well, I don’t know what the particulars are,” Clinton said. “As you might remember, during the campaign he introduced a single-payer bill every year he was in Congress – and when somebody finally read it, he couldn’t explain it and couldn’t really tell people how much it was going to cost.”
Clinton also highlighted what she saw as potential flaws in selling such a plan: special interests and public sentiment.
“When I was working on healthcare back in in ’93 and ’94, I said if we could’ve waved the magic wand and started all over, maybe we would start with something resembling single-payer plus other payers, like other countries that have universal coverage and are much better at controlling costs than we do, primarily in Europe,” Clinton said. “But we were facing the reality of not just strong, powerful forces but people’s own fears as well as their appreciation for what they already had.”
As an example, Clinton cited the difficulties with the attempt at single-payer in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, saying it was “difficult to out the pieces together.”
Clinton advocated a more gradual approach in the Vox interview, saying that Obamacare, the law formally known as the Affordable Care Act, should be stabilized and that Congress should lower the age needed to qualify for Medicare. From there, she said, the US should take incremental steps toward a single-payer system.
Clinton has been promoting her new book, “What Happened,” which details her thoughts on her failed 2016 bid for president. The book sharply criticizes Sanders, who Clinton believes aided President Donald Trump’s eventual victory.
Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan has 15 Democratic cosponsors.