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Sanders: Obama’s Promise That Premiums Would Decline Under ACA ‘Turns Out Not to Be True’

During Tuesday’s debate on Obamacare on CNN with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) answered a question on why President Obama promised people their “health insurance premiums would go down $2,500 a year? Was he telling the truth when he said that? And were you and the other Democrats telling the truth when you echoed his promise to the American people?” By saying that promise, “Turns out not to be true, but it turns out to be that under Bush, premiums went up higher. Not a new thing.”

Sanders was asked by a woman who owns five hair salons, employs “between 45 and 48” people, who said that the requirement that she provide insurance for her employees if she hires 50 or more employees keeps from expanding, “[I]t’s impossible for me to grow my business. My question to you, senator sanders is, how do I grow my business? How do I employ more Americans, without either raising the prices to my customers, or lowering wages to my employees?”

After finding out that the woman doesn’t provide any health insurance to her employees, Sanders told her, “I think, that for businesses that employ 50 people or more, given the nature of our dysfunctional healthcare system right now, where most people do get their health insurance through the places that they work, I’m sorry, I think that in America today everybody should have healthcare. And if you have more than 50 people, you know what? I think, I’m afraid to tell you, I think you will have to provide health insurance.”

The woman then asked how she could do that without raising prices or wages. Sanders replied that he’s not an expert on hairdressing.”

He added that someone else who was providing insurance would be in an “unfair competitive situation regarding you.”

Later, Sanders asked the woman, “What happens if one of your employees becomes ill? What happens? What happens if one of your employees, as happens in every part of the country, gets diabetes, gets cancer, what do they do if they don’t have any health insurance?”

She responded, “I can’t really answer that question, but I can tell you that, because the premiums have gone up so much this year, and because I don’t qualify for any kind of government subsidies, I don’t have, for the first time in my life, insurance. It’s just not affordable. Unfortunately, the prices of my services just don’t warrant it.”

Sanders then stated, “Number one, as I mentioned earlier, it is absolutely true that the cost of premiums are going up, no argument. They went up even higher during the period of George W. Bush. So, it’s not like, oh gee, for the first time in American history, premiums are going up. Number two, Ted mentioned part-time work. … There are fewer part-time employees today than there were before Obamacare, okay? So, here is the point. The bottom line is, with the situation you’ve described, is honestly absurd. You should not be going around without health insurance. Your employees should not be going around without health insurance. We should not be spending twice as much per person on healthcare as do the people of any other nation. Please join me, and fight for a Medicare for all program.”

Cruz countered, “When you heard that her premiums had skyrocketed, that she can’t afford health insurance, you kind of said, well, premiums always go up. I mean, let me ask you, why did President Obama look in the eyes of the American people and promise LaRonda that her health insurance premiums would go down $2,500 a year? Was he telling the truth when he said that? And were you and the other Democrats telling the truth when you echoed his promise to the American people?”

Sanders answered, “Well, Ted, first off, as everybody knows, healthcare is pretty complicated. I think President Obama is an honest person, and I think based on his assessment, that’s what he believed.”

Cruz asked if what Obama had said was true. Sanders replied, “Turns out not to be true, but it turns out to be that under Bush, premiums went up higher. Not a new thing. Then the real question we should be talking about is why we do spend so much money on healthcare, and that means that we have to appreciate that we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars every single year, not on healthcare, but on administration and bureaucracy. … So we have to figure out how to have a simple system that guarantees healthcare to all people. when we do that, you, and your employees, will all have health insurance.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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