As calls for single payer escalate in the wake of Thursday’s devastating Republican healthcare vote, President Donald Trump inadvertently gave a boost to the demand when he praised Australia’s taxpayer-funded, universal coverage system in a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Trump’s statement Thursday night that Australia has “better healthcare than we do” delighted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime single-payer advocate who laughed heartily when he heard it during an interview on MSNBC.
Australia’s system, known as Medicare, provides citizens with universal access to doctors and public hospitals, largely funded through general taxation.
“That’s great,” Sanders said after collecting himself. “Let’s take a look at the Australian healthcare system. Maybe he wants to take a look at the Canadian healthcare system or systems throughout Europe. Thank you, Mr. President. Let us move to a Medicare-for-All system that does what every other major country on earth does—guarantee healthcare for all people at a fraction of the cost per capita that we spend. Thank you, Mr. President. We’ll quote you on the floor of the Senate.”
(The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake further noted that the president’s remark was “merely the latest evidence that Trump, in his heart of hearts, wants single-payer healthcare. Indeed, it seems to be his forbidden fruit.”)
Meanwhile, Sanders wasn’t the only one to call for a single-payer system following Thursday’s vote, which would decimate coverage and raise healthcare costs for millions of Americans.
“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), whose recently re-introduced “Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act” has more Democratic support than ever before.
“That’s why I have a bill to create a single-payer, Medicare-for-All plan,” he said Thursday. “Most of the Democratic party has joined me in cosponsoring that bill. Democrats will be in the majority again—given today’s vote that may happen very soon. When it does, I will do everything in my power to make sure a national, universal, government-funded system is our agenda.”
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