MSNBC’s Velshi Cues Up Sanders to Push Socialized Medicine

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On Saturday’s Velshi show, MSNBC host Ali Velshi again used the pandemic as a rationale for advocating socialized medicine as he defended Canadian-style single-payer health care, and cued up Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to advocate such a system in the U.S.

Not far into the interview, the MSNBC host read from a recent New York Times op-ed written by Senator Sanders:

“The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them also losing their health insurance, this is what happens when health care is seen as an employee benefit and not a guaranteed right.”

He then posed:

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VELSHI: You and I have had this conversation before. It didn’t have to be this way. We are one of the only countries in the world — certainly of the developed countries — in which your ability to be covered for health care — for medical care is dependent on your employment. It’s hard for people to get their head around the fact that it doesn’t actually have to be that way, and it isn’t for most people.

The self-described democratic socialist Senator echoed Velshi by complaining that the U.S. is the “only major country on Earth not to provide health care to all people as a right,” and then praised the Canadian system:

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Somehow or another, in Canada, they manage to provide health care to every man, woman and child as a right, spending about half as much per capita as we do. And if there’s anything that the American people are now learning is how absurd — how irrational it is to have your health care tied to your job because, when you lose your job, you lose your health care. That’s why we have got to fight, in my view, for a Medicare for all, single-payer system. It will cost the average American substantially less than they are paying today and cover all of us in a comprehensive manner with the choice of the doctor or the hospital that we want to go to.

The Canadian-born Velshi then denied that there was a downside to the Canadian health care system:

VELSHI: So you and I have talked about this for a long time — as you know, as you’ve said, I grew up in Canada. I grew up in a system in which it was a single-payer system, and I’ve seen it work, and I’ve seen the nonsense that people talk about it down here about death panels and people dying in the waiting room in hospitals, and it’s not true — the lineups of Americans coming to the United States to get health care — it’s not true either.

The MSNBC anchor then sympathetically asked his guest how much he could hope to accomplish since presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is unlikely to endorse the Sanders plan, leading the Senator to argue in favor of incrementally covering more people.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, April 25, Velshi show on MSNBC:

9:15 a.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: Senator, in an op-ed you penned in the New York Times, you, in part, lay out why guaranteed universal health care is needed now more than ever. I’m just going to quote. You say:

“The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them also losing their health insurance, this is what happens when health care is seen as an employee benefit and not a guaranteed right.”

VELSHI: You and I have had this conversation before. It didn’t have to be this way. We are one of the only countries in the world — certainly of the developed countries — in which your ability to be covered for health care — for medical care is dependent on your employment. It’s hard for people to get their head around the fact that it doesn’t actually have to be that way, and it isn’t for most people.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Please, I hope that the viewers understand — as you’ve just indicated — we’re the only major country on Earth not to provide health care to all people as a right as opposed to an employee benefit. Fifty miles away from where I’m talking to you right now, as you well know, is Canada. Somehow or another, in Canada, they manage to provide health care to every man, woman and child as a right, spending about half as much per capita as we do.

And if there’s anything that the American people are now learning is how absurd — how irrational it is to have your health care tied to your job because, when you lose your job, you lose your health care. That’s why we have got to fight, in my view, for a Medicare for all, single-payer system. It will cost the average American substantially less than they are paying today and cover all of us in a comprehensive manner with the choice of the doctor or the hospital that we want to go to.

VELSHI: So you and I have talked about this for a long time — as you know, as you’ve said, I grew up in Canada. I grew up in a system in which it was a single-payer system, and I’ve seen it work, and I’ve seen the nonsense that people talk about it down here about death panels and people dying in the waiting room in hospitals, and it’s not true — the lineups of Americans coming to the United States to get health care — it’s not true either.

But, given that you are not the candidate right now — I know you’re staying in the race — but given that you’re not likely to be the Democratic nominee, and given that Joe Biden hasn’t fully endorsed this idea, and given that Donald Trump and Republican Senators aren’t endorsing the idea, what’s your best outcome right now in your mission to try and get people to embrace this?

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