- Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio clashed over Sanders’ signature "Medicare For All" policy in Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential candidates debate in Detroit.
- "I do know it — I wrote the damn bill!" Sanders said to Ryan after the representative questioned whether he knew how comprehensive it would be.
- Healthcare policy was one of the main topics in the debate, which saw 10 challengers from the crowded Democratic field of presidential candidates face off.
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Senator Bernie Sanders snapped "I wrote the damn bill!" at Tim Ryan during a testy exchange at Tuesday’s Democratic debate, after Ryan challenged aspects of his signature "Medicare For All" policy.
During the second Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit, Michigan, Ohio representative Ryan suggested to Sanders that he didn’t really know how comprehensive his "Medicare For All" bill would be.
He claimed that union members might actually be better off with their existing healthcare coverage.
"This plan that’s being offered by Senator Warren and Senator [Elizabeth] Sanders will tell those Union members who gave away wages in order to get good healthcare that they’re going to lose their healthcare because Washington’s going to come in and tell them they got a better plan," said Ryan.
Sanders responded: "Well two things, they will be better because ‘Medicare For All’ is comprehensive — it covers all healthcare needs. For senior citizens it will finally include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses."
"But you don’t know that — you don’t know that, Bernie," said Ryan.
"I do know it, I wrote the damn bill," hit back Sanders, to applause from the audience.
He then said that under his plan "instead of having the company putting money in to healthcare, they can get decent wage increases, which they’re not getting today."
Sanders was referring to his "Medicare-for-all bill for a national health insurance program," which he reintroduced to Congress in April with 14 co-sponsors. The bill will be discussed by a committee, before possibly being put before the House or Senate.
Continuing the exchange, Ryan said: "Senator Sanders does not know all of the union contracts in the United States. I’m trying to explain that these union members are losing their jobs, their wages have been stagnant, the world is crumbling around them —the only thing they have is possibly really good healthcare."
Healthcare was one of the main topics debated by the 10 presidential candidates who took to the stage Tuesday night. It is one of the key topic dividing Democratic centrists and those on the progressive wing of the party, including Sanders and Warren.
Several Democratic presidential candidates have come out in support of some version of Sanders’ "Medicare For All" bill, including Warren, Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey.
Sanders’ bill aims to expand federal government healthcare, and effectively end private health insurance.
Several of the largest unions in the US have not come out in support of "Medicare For All," with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union instead advocating for an extension of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Sanders has consistently come in at second in polls to front-runner Joe Biden, a centrist Democrat and former vice president who opposes "Medicare For All."
The Sanders campaign seized on the exchange with Ryan, sending out a fundraising email to supporters quoting the exchange shortly after it took place.
In the email, entitled "I wrote the damn bill," Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote: "They tried to tell Bernie what was in his bill. Well Bernie wrote the damn bill."
The campaign offered a stylized sticker quoting the line to anybody who made a donation.
Bernie Sanders campaign
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