MIAMI, FL – Today, John Delaney joined MSNBC’s Ali Velsli and Stephanie Ruhle for an in-depth discussion about the different paths to achieving universal health care. Delaney’s plan, BetterCare, gives all Americans health insurance as a basic human right while preserving private insurance options.
Delaney said, “I just said it, [Elizabeth Warren] outsourced her plan to Senator Sanders. And that’s a huge problem. He is not even a Democrat.”
Delaney highlighted the problems with eliminating private insurance, including the increased likelihood of hospitals closing. “I travel around this country and I go to rural America quite a bit and we have a crisis in health care in rural America,” Delaney stressed. “And there’s not one rural hospital in this country that would stay open if we had Medicare for All based on the way it’s described in that bill. They would all close. They are all just on the edge. Medicare rates as the gentleman just said are half of the rates of private insurance. About a third of their patients are private insurance. So if you cut the reimbursement rates of a third of their patients by half and they’re running barely breaking even, they would close. It’s just something that no one talks about.”
Recent polling by Navigator Research on single-payer Medicare for All again reveals that 53% of respondents are opposed to a Medicare for All program that eliminates private insurance. Section 107 of the single-payer Medicare for All legislation authored by Senator Sanders (and cosponsored by Senator Harris, Senator Warren, and others) states that private insurance for any benefits covered by Medicare is illegal.
The full exchange is transcribed below and can be viewed online here.
Ali Velshi>> And as we just said, 2020 contender and former Congressman, John Delaney joins us right now. You seemed to like that response from Larry.
John Delaney>> I think he’s saying the truth. I mean, I travel around this country and I go to rural America quite a bit and we have a crisis in health care in rural America. And there’s not one rural hospital in this country that would stay open if we had Medicare for All based on the way it’s described in that bill. They would all close. They are all just on the edge. Medicare rates as the gentleman just said are half of the rates of private insurance. About a third of their patients are private insurance. So if you cut the reimbursement rates of a third of their patients by half and they’re running barely breaking even, they would close. It’s just something that no one talks about.
Stephanie Ruhle>> So hospitals would close, but what about all the people out there who are on private insurance and are okay with it, people in park ridge, New Jersey, and Villanova, Pennsylvania, how are they going to react when we say — when the government says, you know what, all government funded, no more private insurance?
Delaney>> We will lose the election by 10 points because it will never happen. If you go to most Americans health care is their number one issue, like our seniors, the gentleman from Kaiser talked about Medicare Advantage. That is private insurance. Half of our seniors are selecting it. Imagine how we’re going to do in the 2020 election if we go out to the seniors in this country and say Medicare Advantage, which you’ve selected and obviously like and they are selecting it in huge numbers, it’s now illegal. None will vote for the Democrats, why would they? It’s the most important thing in their life.
Ruhle>> I want to say this in the most respectful way possible. How do you get this message across and get it to stick? I think about the Republican debates a few years ago and people who came prepared, who did homework, who had very good reputations, who operated within the lines —
Velshi>> We are in the wilderness now.
Ruhle>> — Which you did last night are people like John Kasich, and Jeb Bush, and President Trump decimated them.
Ruhle>> How are you going to make yourself stand out? While people would say you didn’t win or lose last night, some could say it wasn’t a night of impact for you.
Delaney>> Well, on health care it was. Right? I think on health care it was. This is the number one issue. You travel all around this country, you know this, Stephanie, the things most Americans care about is what’s going on with their health care, it’s the number one issue. We are following someone on this issue — I mean, a bunch of the people on the stage with me, Senator Warren, she outsourced her health care plan to Senator Sanders basically.
Ruhle>> Why didn’t you take that shot last night?
Delaney>> I did. I mean, I was talking about it. You know, this is the problem we have, right? They are all just following this person, he is a he not even a Democrat, I mean, when I —
Ruhle>> Why are you saying this person.
Delaney>> Senator Sanders.
Ruhle>> So say it.
Delaney>> Well, I, ok, I just said it, she outsourced her plan to Senator Sanders. And that’s a huge problem. He is not even a Democrat. When I first announced I was running for president, everyone said you have to be on the Medicare for All —
Velshi>> That’s a nonstarter, I’m a Canadian and I believe that Senator Sanders’ plan is the best one to bring our costs down because it’s what most other developed countries have.
Delaney>> No, it’s not —
Velshi>> It is.
Delaney>> No, it’s not. Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, they have mixed models.
Velshi>> They are universal health care models.
Delaney>> I’m calling for universal health care, too. To give every American health care as a basic human right. But why do we also have to say you lose your option.
Velshi>>A Canadian hospital, a U.K. hospital, A French hospital, and a Swiss hospital do not get different rates based on the way in which a person is insured. So your argument about rates is an interesting argument and Larry suggests it’s right, but the idea that you’re pinning that on weirdness on Bernie Sanders, I’m just telling you 54 other countries have it. Every other company OECD country has some form of universality in which everybody’s rates are paid at the same level. So that argument doesn’t make sense.
Delaney>> I’m sorry, but you are wrong about that. They have universal health care but they don’t have a single-payer system.Right? So- Medicare for All is a single-payer system.
Velshi>> No it’s not.
Delaney>> Yes, it is.
Velshi>> It’s not. It’s an insurance system.
Delaney>> Medicare for All is not an insurance system.
Velshi>> It is an insurance system. It’s a payment that reimburses something that’s charged. That’s not how single payer system works. That’s not a single payer system works, that’s not how the UK works or the how the Canadian system works.
Delaney>> Medicare for All is a single payer bill—I know what Medicare is — do you know what Medicare Advantage is?
Delaney>> What is Medicare Advantage?
Velshi>> It is a program that is over and above the basic costs of Medicare that most people get
because Medicare doesn’t pay the full costs.
Delaney>> It’s actually not more expensive. You get it for the same price and —
Velshi>> It’s —
JDelaney>> No, this is important. Medicare Advantage, if you and I were turning 65 we could choose Medicare Advantage. Doesn’t cost us anything else. We get more benefits.
Velshi>> Right, but it’s a higher cost program.
Delaney>> We have lower copays—No, it’s not.
Velshi>> It’s not higher cost to you but the cost of the program is— is higher.
Delaney>> It’s not. The government pays Medicare Advantage providers the same rates they pay Medicare.
Velshi>> Who pays the extra cost? If you’re getting more out of Medicare Advantage than you are out of Medicare, then where does the extra cost come from?
Delaney>> They run it more efficiently.
Delaney>> Because they have networks and they manage the care.
Velshi>> Right. That’s what a larger system, a universal system does.
Delaney>> But Medicare doesn’t do that right now.
Velshi>> Right. That’s why Bernie Sanders is calling for Medicare for All so that everything is networked.
Delaney>> What you just said about Medicare Advantage is not true. Right? Medicare Advantage is an option that our seniors get, they don’t pay anything more for it.
Velshi>> I understand, John, but whether the senior pays for it, the insurance system pays for it, the government pays for it, or your private insurance pays for it, there are higher costs and lower costs, right? So when I say something costs more and you say it doesn’t cost the user more, it costs the system more. So the United States pays more than double what all industrialized countries pay for health care, that’s a cost that might be borne by you, it might be borne by your insurance company —
Delaney>> But there’s a reason for it. If you need a specialist in the UK, it’s not emergency care. Right, you’ve got to wait about nine months.
Velshi>> That’s just not true.
Delaney>> It is, too, true. I just had a friend of mine who had a hip replacement in the UK that had to wait nine months.
Ruhle>> Okay. Come on. Come on.
Velshi>> I just– I just think you have to have your facts right. Medicare for All–
Delaney>> Listen, my facts are 100% right, the gentleman from Kaiser just confirmed it. Medicare doesn’t pay the cost of health care. That’s a fact. Private insurance pays twice what Medicare does for hospitals. If every hospital were reimbursed at the Medicare rate they would close. So what’s your answer to that? What’s your answer to that?
Delaney>> Where does that– No, but what’s your answer to that.
Velshi>> My argument is that—
Delaney>> You’re basically arguing that hospitals should close.
Velshi>> Uh, I’m not arguing that.
Delaney>>This is Economics, you are an economist. You have to understand —
Velshi>> You’re making my words for me, that’s fine. I’m not making that argument at all.
Delaney>> What’s your argument to 150 million Americans who are going to lose their health care.
Velshi>> Why would you lose your health care under a Medicare for All program?
Delaney>> Because it makes it illegal.
Velshi>> Okay I’m not going to —
Delaney>> Here is an example, what if this new Medicare for All program doesn’t reimburse —
Velshi>> The “for all” part means everybody gets it. There are 11 basic health benefits, guaranteed health benefits that were there under ObamaCare. I’m not arguing it’s a better deal, I’m telling you your argument that people are losing health care under it is incorrect.
Delaney>> It is correct.
Velshi>> It’s just not correct. The “for all” part means for all.
Ruhle>> Okay. Do you know what —
Delaney>> But it’s your choice. How do you know the Medicare for All benefits will be the same? Again, my dad the union electrician he loved his health care that he got through the IBEW. If my dad were alive and I were to say you have to get off that IBEW and trust me we will have this great new government plan, he would be like let me see it first.
Velshi>> I hear why people would be frustrated I’m just saying it’s coverage for all people. It may not be at the level that you’re used to when your insurance company pays twice as much as Medicare. I think that’s understandable.
Delaney>> So then, what are the people who then have —
Velshi>> They are not losing their health care.
Delaney>> I never said they lost their health care.
Ruhle>> But Ali, the point is they would be taking a leap, a risk and do you believe that millions of Americans who currently have health care want to take that risk?
Velshi>> I agree that that would be difficult for them, but I think —
Delaney>> Do you agree that hospitals closing is a problem? Did you see the “Washington Post” two weeks ago that had a story about what’s going on in rural health care? That people– these portable clinics come in.
Velshi>> We covered that story.
Delaney>> And people go, yeah? That’s what’s happening in rural America right now.
Velshi>> That’s not because Medicare for All is there. That’s because they don’t have health care.
Delaney>> I agree with that, but there’s another problem. We’re aging as a society. So, a hospital’s patient mix is changing. It used to have more commercial insurance payments and higher rates, now they’re getting more Medicare patients at lower rates, that’s causing a lot of hospitals in rural America to close.
Delaney>> And this will accelerate that trend.
Velshi>> I think we will agree on a lot of these issues, I just wanted to be clear that for Medicare for All means Medicare for All people.
Delaney>> I never said it didn’t give anyone health care coverage. My plan does, too.
Velshi>> My mistake, I thought that’s what you said but that’s–
Velshi>> We are agreed.
Ruhle>> We’re going to leave it there. Before we go, John, your last point of the night is that you want to make America work again.
Delaney>> That’s right.
Ruhle>> You didn’t get that point in until the very last moment of the night. Are you frustrated with how the night went? Do you —
Delaney>> I would have loved more time, right? I don’t think the way the time was allocated was at all fair. I would have loved more time because I think there’s a lot of —
Ruhle>> Why didn’t you take it? Bill de Blasio did.
Delaney>> Well I– I took as much as his. I–They said I tried to interrupt eight times which was the most of the evening. So, you know, I’m from Jersey so I fought my way in as much as I could.
Velshi>> You get the most tenacious award.
Delaney>> That’s what actually someone just gave me. The person who interrupted the most was me.
Ruhle>> There you go.
Velshi>> There’s something.
Ruhle>> John, thanks so much for joining us. Congressman John Delaney from the state of Maryland, but you know what? He just gave a shout out to Jersey.