Health Care

Sanders Won’t Say Whether You Can Keep Your Doctor under Medicare for All

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Columbia, S.C., June 22, 2019. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders declined to say Tuesday whether his Medicare for All plan would cause some to lose their doctors, instead emphasizing that every American will have access to a doctor.

The Democratic presidential contender dodged during a CNN appearance when pressed on whether some doctors would decide to make themselves available only to the wealthy and not to see Medicare patients.

“That is not the way the system is going to work,” the Vermont senator said. “The system is going to work similarly to what exists in Canada, and what we are going to see is an expansion of Medicare where almost all doctors are now in Medicare to cover every man, woman, and child in this country.”

Medicare for All would require a four-year transition period under Sanders’s plan, the senator said.

“As you know eligibility for Medicare is 65. We take it down at the end of the first year. To 55 next year, 45 next year, and then we cover every man, woman, and child,” Sanders said.

However, when asked to clarify whether he could “100 percent guarantee to all Americans that their existing doctor would see them under this plan,” the self-described Democratic socialist demurred.

“Every American will be able to go to the doctor they want because doctors will be in the Medicare for All single-payer program as they are right now in the Medicare program,” he said.

Other Democratic presidential hopefuls have repeated former president Barack Obama’s familiar promise that “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor” under a single-payer health-care system.

“The vast majority of doctors will be in that system, and you can keep your doctor under that system,” said Senator Kamala Harris, who is a co-sponsor of Sanders’s Medicare for All legislation.

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