‘Bullsh*t’: Sanders Campaign Denies Shifting Positions on Union Health Benefits Under Medicare for All

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives his Medicare for All address at the George Washington University July 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. Sen. Sanders renewed his campaign promise from 2016 for providing a single payer system of healthcare for all Americans. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign is denying that the presidential candidate shifted his position on union health benefits under Medicare for All, calling the Washington Post’s report “wrong” and “bullshit.”

Members of the Sanders campaign pushed back against a Washington Post report, indicating that Sanders adjusted his previously held position that his Medicare for All agenda would “absolutely” erase union health benefits. The report noted the change, which was reportedly reflected on Sanders’ website, suggesting that companies with union-negotiated healthcare plans would hold certain negotiating powers through the National Labor Relations Board:

Sanders’ website states:

Bernie will require that resulting healthcare savings from union-negotiated plans result in wage increases and additional benefits for workers during the transition to Medicare for All. When Medicare for All is signed into law, companies with union negotiated health care plans would be required to enter into new contract negotiations overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Under this plan, all company savings that result from reduced health care contributions from Medicare for All will accrue equitably to workers in the form of increased wages or other benefits.  Furthermore, the plan will ensure that union-sponsored clinics and other providers are integrated within the Medicare for All system, and kept available for members. Unions will still be able to negotiate for and provide wrap-around services and other coverage not duplicative of the benefits established under Medicare for All.

However, Josh Orton, national policy director for Sanders, slammed the Post’s report.

“This headline from the Wash Post is 100% wrong – know how I know? Medicare for All is a Senate bill with exact text and co-sponsors. The text hasn’t changed,” he tweeted in part:

Warren Gunnels, a senior Sanders adviser, called the Post’s report “bullshit.”

“@washingtonpost: You asked for an on-the-record comment on this bogus headline. Well, here it goes: Bullshit,” he wrote.

“Bernie wrote the damn bill & didn’t amend it. We’re proud of the union support for #MedicareForAll. When it passes they will receive higher wages and benefits – period,” he added:

Sanders made waves Monday after telling an attendee of his Davenport, Iowa, townhall that his Medicare for All plan would “absolutely” take away union members’ right to bargain for their medical benefits.

“Yeah, absolutely it would!” Sanders said, adding, “It’s not a bad thing”:

Sanders told the Post Wednesday that his team is “talking to the unions, obviously” and touted his self-described position as the “strongest pro-union member of the United States Congress.”

“We’re going to work with unions on this issue,” Sanders said, seemingly acknowledging that many unions remain wary of how his Medicare for All plan would affect their bargaining powers.

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