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Bernie Says He Doesn’t Need to Release ‘Exact Detailed’ Plan on Funding Medicare for All

Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses attendees at the “Bernie’s Back” rally at Queensbridge Park in Queens, N.Y., October 19, 2019. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) promised to “pay for every nickel of Medicare for All,” during a Tuesday interview but said that he doesn’t feel compelled to explain how he would fund the program at this point in his presidential campaign.

“We have laid out a variety of options that are progressive. We’ll have that debate. At the end of the day, we will pay for every nickel of Medicare for All, and it will save the overwhelming majority of the American people, who will no longer pay premiums,” Sanders told CNBC’s John Harwood.

Much of recent news on Medicare for All has centered around Sanders’s fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, who was targeted by moderates in the October Democratic debate for refusing to admit that middle-class taxes must be increased to pay for the bill. In the days following the debate, Warren said that she would release a plan after “working for a long time on this question,” but a leaked video from an August meeting showed distancing herself from the specifics of Sanders’s plan.

During the debate attack on Warren, Sanders chimed in “as someone who wrote the damn bill” that “it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up.”

Sanders introduced the legislation on the Senate floor in 2017, which does not address how the single-payer system will be funded. “The tax increase they pay will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expansions,” Sanders said during the Ohio debate.

Other Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, have criticized the lack of detail on Medicare for All.

“How will we pay for it? I want to hear. [Warren] has not said how she’ll pay for it, and [Sanders] only gets about half way there. I lay out how I can pay for it and how I can get it done and why it’s better,” Biden said during the September debate.

Hours before the most recent debate, the Buttigieg campaign also released an ad targeting Warren and Sanders for “infringing on freedom” in pushing for Medicare for All.

Sanders defended himself on Tuesday, arguing that debates around Medicare for All ignore the already-high cost of health care. “The fight right now is to get the American people to understand that we’re spending twice as much per capita, that of course, we can pay for it. We’re paying it now in a very reactionary, regressive way. I want to pay for it in a progressive way,” he said.

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