On Feb. 7, former presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz were on CNN to debate the fate of the Affordable Care Act in a town-hall setting.
The senators took questions from the audience and came to agreement about a lot of issues in healthcare, but didn’t come to any common solutions.
In his opening statement, Sanders made his position on healthcare — the same one he has been holding since his presidential campaign — very clear.
“The United States is the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right,” Sanders said. “I believe we should move in that direction. The ACA has been a step forward. We have got to go further and join every other major country on Earth and say that if you are an American, you are guaranteed health care as a right, not a privilege.”
Cruz’s main point throughout the debate was that healthcare should see less government regulation, not more as proposed by Sanders.
“Now, nobody thinks we’re done once Obamacare is repealed. Once Obamacare is repealed, we need commonsense reform that increases competition, that empowers patients, that gives you more choices, that puts you in charge of your health care, rather than empowering government bureaucrats to get in the way,” Cruz said.
The ACA is likely en route to being repealed. But it’s unclear what aspects of the law are going to stay in place and which will be gone — though there are a few common wishes across party lines.
“I think there is consensus that the pre-existing conditions provision and the age 26 provision should stay in the replacement plan. The mandate that you have to buy health insurance and the mandates on what kind of policy you buy need to be repealed,” said Steven Clark, a sophomore government on politics major and secretary of the College Republicans.
Despite some compromise, many democrats — including Sanders — are not keen on the repeal-and-replace idea and are not going to give up the fight easily.
“As a Sanders supporter, I am confident that Sanders’ plan, which promises bringing healthcare to tens of millions of Americans while lowering average costs, will win out over Cruz’ plan, which is drawn from Ayn Rand and not reality,” Christopher Walkup, senior government and politics major, said.
The senators had to face tough questions from people who benefit from and suffer because of the ACA, but their inability to come to any type of consensus left many questions unanswered and highlighted just how difficult the repeal process is going to be.