Former president Bill Clinton joined his wife and daughter in assailing Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care plan last week, saying that it would lead to “overcharging and inflation.”
But in 2009, he defended the single-payer approach, in which the government pays for everyone’s health care. During an appearance on CNN, host Sanjay Gupta asked the former president whether single-payer was “politically unpalatable, or is it a bad idea?”
“Well, I think it’s more politically unpalatable than it is a bad idea,” responded Clinton. “Because single-payer is not socialized medicine. Canada has a single-payer system, and a private health care system. Our single-payer systems are Medicare and Medicaid and Medicare is quite popular. The good thing about single-payer is the administrative costs are quite low. We probably waste $200 billion a year between the insurance administrative costs, the doctors’ and other health care providers’ administrative costs, and employers’ administrative costs in health care that we would not waste if we had any other country’s system.”
He went on to talk about mixed public-private health care systems, such as those in Japan and Germany, arguing that they also keep costs low and have merits as well.
Gupta returned to the topic of single-payer, asking if there is a “degradation of quality of care in a single-payer system.” “There’s no evidence of that in Canada, that I’m aware of, except excessive delays,” said Clinton. He went on to note that the British health care system, which is mostly nationalized, handles these by having private-side options.
Watch the interview below:
Both Clintons have received millions of dollars in speech fees from the health care industry in the interim. This past summer, former president Clinton was the keynote speaker at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance lobbying group that spent $100 million fighting health reform.