Americans could be forced to decide between sending their children to college or their parents to nursing homes, Sen. Bernie Sanders told a Columbus crowd of 2,200 on Sunday.
“In the United States of America, we should not have to make these choices,” the Vermont senator said. “What we are talking about here is not just health care … at the deepest level, we are talking about the moral values of this country.”
The former presidential candidate’s visit was part of a “Don’t Take Our Health Care” weekend tour across Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to denounce a newly unveiled GOP health-care bill before an expected Senate vote this week.
The Sanders event drew a characteristically energetic audience, but it was a palpable anxiety and anger energizing the crowd. Boos and sharp cries of “Don’t take away our health care” and “They work for us” interrupted rally speakers.
Along with the plan to scale back Medicaid, speakers denounced provisions in the bill to eliminate federal dollars for Planned Parenthood. They also criticized Republican lawmakers for crafting the legislation behind closed doors and without a public hearing.
In his speech, Sanders addressed two Ohioans by name. He lauded Gov. John Kasich for publicly disapproving of the health-care proposal, and he implored Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, an undecided but key vote, to do the same.
“If Senator Portman votes no, the likelihood is this bill would go down,” Sanders said. “Rob, this is an immoral piece of legislation. Listen to your own governor … a fellow Republican.”
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