With more than one million people watching at home, and hundreds watching from the studio audience, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leaned across his desk with a crucial health-care question.
“What’s the quality of the Norwegian system?” Sanders asked Meetali Kakadi, an Oslo-based health researcher. “Is it good?”
In her view, it was: “Far better than Canada.”
Sanders’s “town hall on Medicare for All,” an event he’d organized after becoming convinced that it would never be produced by the mainstream media, never got more combative than that. Over 100 minutes, Sanders and nine guests — three at a time, taking turns — discussed the need to bring about single-payer health care, its benefits to business, and its implementation around the world. (Kakadi’s Canada joke was aimed at Danyaal Raza, there to defend his country’s system.)
“It’s a discussion you’re not likely to see on the mainstream news,” Sanders said at the outset. “This event will not be interrupted be commercials for the drug companies.”
On Tuesday night, it was Sanders asking the questions, and getting answers he liked. In the room — the Congressional Auditorium, where in 2010 President Obama revved up House Democrats ahead of their Affordable Care Act vote — Sanders’s audience alternated between rapt attention and grateful applause as experts explained how higher tax rates could replace America’s health-care system with universal Medicare. A mention of Tommy Douglas, the father of Canada’s health-care system who remains somewhat obscure in the United States, inspired loud applause.
“No billboards, no high salaries,” said the former Medicare and Medicaid administrator Donald Berwick. “The complexity of the system just isn’t there. What we’ve got here is insane!”
“Is that a clinical term?” asked Sanders, jokingly.
Thank you to the 1.1 million people who tuned in live to the first-ever national Medicare for All town hall tonight. Together we will successfully move the United States to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system and guarantee health care to all.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2018
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