The prognosis for Graham-Cassidy, Republicans' latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, looked bleak even before its authors sat down to debate Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a CNN town hall Monday night. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have both indicated they're likely to vote against the legislation, and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who helped kill the last Republican health care proposal, could soon follow. Meanwhile, the bill is polling at a piddling 20 percent with the American public.
Monday night's debate was unlikely to change anybody's mind. Amy Klobuchar offered pointed criticism of Graham-Cassidy, including its failure to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, but the evening belonged to Bernie Sanders, who not only made a passionate case for single-payer but proved himself quite adept at defending Obamacare as well. So much for centrist Democrats' concerns that he might sabotage the party's efforts to block a Republican health care bill.
Here are six of his best lines from Monday night's debate, each a reminder why he was such a compelling presidential candidate in 2016.
1. On Graham-Cassidy
“But here's the point. Every major health organization in this country, whether it is the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer's Society, every single major medical organization in this country thinks that their proposal is a disaster."
2. On Pre-Existing Conditions
"These are wonderful gentlemen, and I know nobody up here wants to see anybody die. But you tell me what happens when somebody who has cancer, somebody who has a serious heart condition, somebody who has a life- threatening disease suddenly loses the health insurance that they have."
3. On Cost-Effective Health Care
"This [current] system is designed to make billions of dollars in profits for the insurance industry. We spend 12 percent to 18 percent to administer the incredibly complex hundreds of plans that we currently have. And with these guys, if they got their way, there would even be more plans, more bureaucracy, more complexity, more money going to the insurance companies."
4. On the Insurance Industry
"So if we are serious about moving to a cost-effective universal health care, yeah, we do have to take on the insurance companies. They do not play a role in providing health care. Our money should be going to doctors, to nurses, to hospitals, not to the insurance industry or, in fact, the drug industry, which is charging us by far the highest prices in the world."
5. On the Affordable Care Act
"We all recognize that the Affordable Care Act leaves a lot to be done. But let's not forget that 20 million Americans today have health insurance who previously did not. So the point is it's easy to say Obamacare isn't perfect. Everybody knows that. But the truth is that what people in this country see is a health insurance system designed to make insurance companies and drug companies huge profits. They want a cost-effective system that, in fact, deals with the needs of our people and not just the CEOs of large corporations."
6. On Single Payer
"Our job as a humane society is to do a couple of things. It's not to throw 30 million people off of health insurance. It's to do what every other major country on Earth does, guarantee health care to all people as a right. That's what we should be doing."