Sanders: Medicare Expansion, Paid Family and Medical Leave Are Infrastructure

On Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “AC360,” Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that infrastructure is defined as “the goods and services and structures that maintain a society,” and when you define it that way, that includes expanding Medicare and providing paid family and medical leave.

Sanders said, “I think the definition of infrastructure are the goods and services and structures that maintain a society, and when you define infrastructure in that way, to me, if a mom and dad go to work in the morning, you know what, they have the right to know that their children, their little kids are going to be in quality child care that they can afford.”

He continued, “When I talk about infrastructure, I am talking about the fact that today in America, this is unbelievable, you’ve got millions of senior citizens who have no teeth in their mouth, unable to digest the food that they are eating. They cannot hear well and are isolated from their kids and grandchildren and their communities. They can’t hear, and people have trouble seeing because the cost of dental care, the cost of eyeglasses, the cost of hearing aids is astronomically high, and we’ve got to deal with that. And that’s why I am fighting to expand Medicare to include dental care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60. And we pay for that by finally having the courage, Anderson, to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, which charges us by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. So if we can have Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, we will save approximately $450 billion over a ten-year period, which will enable us to expand Medicare and provide dental, hearing aid, and vision care and lower the cost — lower the age of eligibility. So, to my mind, what infrastructure is about is not only physical infrastructure. It is human infrastructure. It is understanding that we have a life expectancy in this country, we don’t talk about it very much, 39th in the world, and for lower-income and working-class people, the numbers are even worse. So when we talk about human infrastructure, it means doing what many countries around the world have done for years, and that is provide the basic health care and child care and paid family and medical leave that their families require.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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