Hear the Bern Episode 2: Busting Trump's Health Care Myths

when I left home for college literally the same August that I left for college we got a notice from the health care plan that my premium was being increased 300% and suddenly we were thrown in a world wind where I was trying to figure out how to apply for Medicaid again because I went out of state for school my parents could not afford to put me on their insurance from their employer we just could not afford it again my dad makes $1,000 over the threshold why can't the free market work [Applause] this is here the bird a podcast about the people ideas and politics that are driving the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign and the movement to secure a dignified life for everyone living in this country my name is Brianna joy gray coming to you from Bernie's campaign headquarters in Washington DC to be honest when I sent out an office-wide slack message to see if anyone had any interest in sharing their health insurance stories with me I didn't expect to get much of a response the staff at least those who are active on slack tend to skew young and young people tend to skew healthy and insured especially since the Affordable Care Act allows folks to stay on their parent's insurance until age 26 but the thing about private health insurance is that even when it's working it's often not working well 43 percent of adults with health insurance are struggling to afford their deductibles about a third can't afford their premiums medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy and nearly half of those who get cancer exhaust their entire life savings in two years tens of millions of people are skipping or delaying the treatment they need in tens of thousands die each year because they can't get care the conversations I had with my co-workers about this reflected that reality so we're all here today to talk about how much we love our insurers right no that's Eileen Garcia head of Spanish translations at the Bernie 2020 campaign and Julia Griffin a graphic design associate here but I hear this all the time when I'm watching TV pundits get on and they ask people questions about what are you gonna do about the fact that Americans love their insurance companies now do you worry that that is gonna be politically unpalatable to Americans many of whom have private insurance that they like and they're comfortable with is that gonna be too big a change too fast like are they talking to normal people away like I don't know who says thank you really so what if your experience has been like if they haven't been a love story between you and BlueCross BlueShield so I am 23 so I'm so covered luckily under my father's insurance and he luckily has like a really great job and great benefits and we have Blue Cross Blue Shield I can go to any doctor it's fine relatively low co-pays but I got sick this past January January 1st you get a new deductible it's my dad is thrifty so we have a high deductible and since I was someone racking it up I was doing paying for it I got to spend Christmas in the emergency room and I had multiple emergency room visits and they had to do all these weird tests on me and I just kept getting socked with Bill after Bill after Bill I had just graduated from college and I had like no money that's Julia not only did she find herself paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket due to her father's thriftiness she also felt that doctors insufficiently credited her pain both because she's plus-sized and because she's a woman the tests they were running because I am a plus-sized woman they all assumed you know you just have gallbladder issues because you're fat and they just focused entirely on my gallbladder like the first ER trip I had the doctor was male I was in extreme pain like I woke my boyfriend up and he had to drive me to the emergency room in the middle of the night on Christmas and the guy was like you should just be taking advil like I don't know what's wrong with you there's nothing showing up on the scans you should just go home and I'm like I come from a family where we push through pain women we were used to pushing through pain but like when we it does get to the point where we're okay we're going to the emergency room in the middle of the night like I'm not just someone out looking for drugs like I need I need help and Eileen who she seems to have experienced every flaw of our very flawed system from high deductibles to being kicked off Medicaid to having to ration her insulin well I'll let her when I was a year old I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes which for people who don't know type 1 is the autoimmune version of diabetes so the beta cells in my pancreas attacked themselves and my pancreas no longer produces insulin so I need insulin in order to survive that's the hormone that your body is supposed to naturally produce without which you can't convert glucose into energy and you will die when I was diagnosed I was fortunate enough that my family was eligible for Medicaid and for a good portion of my childhood that was how I got coverage but when I was about 8 years old suddenly my dad made $1,000 over the Medicaid threshold so I was transferred to KidCare of Florida and while expensive we were you know cutting where we had to cut and making ends meet because I need insulin you know that's a non-negotiable drug when I turned 18 I was then kicked off of KidCare and so we were in a scramble trying to find insurance because they gave they gave me a month notice that I was no longer going to have insurance and thankfully that was in 2016 2017 so Obamacare was a thing I thank God yeah and my parents went to an Obama care center and we were enrolled in an Obama care plan and that literally saved my life it was with an affordable premium a very low deductible so it was exactly what we needed but when I left home for college literally the same August that I left for college we got a notice from the health care plan that my premium was being increased 300% oh my and suddenly we were thrown in a world wind where I was trying to figure out how to apply for Medicaid again because I went out of state for school my parents could not afford to put me on their insurance from their employer we just could not afford it again my dad makes $1,000 over the threshold that's we can't afford that and it took about two months for me to get the medicaid process you doubt during which I completely ran out of my insulin pump supplies and had to be transferred to multiple daily injections in an emergency because I was going to run out of insulin oh my gosh and I Medicaid is great and I hate complaining about it because it saved my life when I needed it but it has very strict rules about the kinds of medications you can get and how much of that medication you can get and so I was using literal inch and a half long needles to give my injections that were causing huge bruises all over my body and I was fighting with the doctor fighting with the insurance to get them to cover different needles kept getting denied so eventually I started rationing my injections and trying to spread them out because it was so painful thankfully now through school I had to take out student loans but partially to cover the health insurance provided by my school wait oh my goodness at least with this private insurance I'm able to get needles that are comfortable for me to use so that I'm not rationing my injections I had to change the type of insulin that I was using I used to use a fast-acting insulin called novalog my insurance made me technically their preferred ensure their preferred insulin is admin log which is very new to the market so this hesitant to use it and so I went with their tier 2 insulin which is Humalog and it hasn't been too great it's supposed to be a seamless transition but it hasn't been very seamless so far I've noticed I've had to use about double the amount of pee and malaga then I was using of novalog oh my god but trying to make it work you know this is all going like are you making you want to leave this podcast you know and grab a banner and start posting in the street but we're like already at the Bernie Sanders headquarter already ready on it already on it indeed the day after we recorded the interview with Eileen and Julia Bernie Sanders announced his new medicare-for-all bill health care is a human right not a privilege it is not a radical idea to say that in the United States every American who goes to a doctor should be able to afford the prescription drugs he or she needs it's aimed at addressing all of the issues raised by both Julia and Eileen stories it would be couple health care access from employment and give everyone everyone health care coverage preventing a situation were in Eileen had to ration the insulin she needs to stay alive it would eliminate out-of-pocket costs including the high deductibles experienced by Julia who found herself paying thousands of dollars for tests and it would get rid of premiums making it so that no one ever has to experience a sudden hike like the three hundred percent rise Eileen experienced just as she started college Bernie Sanders plan understands that there's a better way as evidenced by the fact that every other major country in the world has some form of universal health care we are going to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America our great country being the only major nation on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right that is going to end health care matters so I wasn't surprised to discover that my co-workers experiences with our health care system almost uniformly informed their choice to commit themselves to the Bernie 2020 campaign for me this is probably one of the biggest reasons that I support Bernie why I believe in Bernie I want him to be the president is because we we just have to have universal health care that is free at the point of service with no co-pays and no deductibles and that's Bernie's Medicare Medicare for our plan and that is not the case with any other proposals that are currently out there it just it has to be Medicare for all Georgia a senior social media strategist is a childhood cancer survivor diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at the age of five she was able to get excellent care because her family had good insurance she was able to get follow-up treatment like the hearing aids she needed as a result of the chemotherapy but she saw that others weren't so lucky and believes that everyone deserves the care she received regardless of how much wealth their family has its true the US has some of the best doctors in the world it has some of the best medical innovation we have you know just incredible treatment options available for people here but the problem is that literally millions of people they can't get to that through no fault of their own just because of their circumstances they were born in because of the circumstances that currently and they can't avoid that um so I went through a lot of treatment I went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy I did a stem cell transplant I had surgeries and all of that I was able to get because I had insurance so my belief in Medicare for all doesn't necessarily stem from the problems that I've personally experienced with the current system but because I've experienced what we are capable of and that's the reason I'm here recording this podcast right now working for Bernie to be the president of the United States is because I was able to get that treatment and I don't believe that any person was more or less deserving of having access to that and getting the same kind of care that I was able to get so that's why I think if we are going to reach our full potential as a country we have to make sure everyone has that chance and that's why we need Medicare for all this simple moral claim but just because you have less money doesn't mean you should be more likely to die or live in pain seem so obvious so undeniably true maybe that's why it's Norman every other similarly situated country in the world I spent a year abroad living in Denmark and as a resident studying there I was granted access to the healthcare system and so you know as soon as I arrived in the country I was given a small car it's about the size of like a library card you just carry it around in your wallet that's Nathan Ober who works on the campaign scheduling and advance team is this your car yeah yeah so if you flip it over so it's just like a credit card strips there's a little kiosk in the office and so you just walk in and you swipe the card and that's it there's no co-pays at the time a visit there's no billing department that you have to fight with on the phone or in person no mysterious bills show up in the mail it's it's as simple as swiping a card and seeing a doctor for free whenever you need to yeah no I mean like yeah the the waiting in line is I think a total myth and and that was not my experience at all whenever I needed care I could get that care as soon as I needed it without any hassle long lines and wait times are far from the only myths you commonly hear bandied about when medicare-for-all comes up and it's no surprise why the principle difference between single-payer medicare-for-all and the more moderate adoptions backed by certain other candidates is that single-payer gets rid of the private insurance companies who are acting as a middleman this is where the savings come in this is how you cut administrative waste millions being spent on advertising and the billions in profit that go to companies like Aetna whose CEO alone made fifty nine million dollars in 2017 not to mention all the money these companies spent lobbying politicians in Washington is it any surprise that Bernie's plan has detractors let me tell you exactly what this debate is about it's not a health care debate because the current system is dysfunctional and no one can defend spending twice as much per capita on a health care system which doesn't cover tens of millions of people what this is a struggle about is the power of the insurance companies and the drug companies who make billions of dollars in profit they love the current private insurance and pharmaceutical companies have been throwing millions at forwarding universal health care for years and now that it's overwhelmingly popular among Americans they're doing anything they can to make us settle for less and one of the most entertaining and cathartic news segments I've heard in a long time dr. Adam Gaffney an instructor in medicine at Harvard med school schooled six Fox News pundits who through every myth in the book at him the cost would be extraordinary would it not how are you gonna get a million doctors to take a pay cut the hospital's got our business the doctors are just no longer work because they're not getting paid I mean then then where are you going for care how can you guarantee that our quality of health care won't go down the way it has gone down in Great Britain as a result of their socialized system why can't the free market work a true free market in health care is something no nation no civilized nation would ever accept you'd have people literally dying on this street because they couldn't afford the care but we don't need a Harvard med school degree did you just as good a job so for this week's practice segment or we put ideas to action let's play healthcare red herring how to spot him how to beat him and how to convince your mother father sister brother cousin best friend partner boss that health care is a human right hopefully trump press secretary sarah huckabee sanders no relation summarize the empty arguments against medicare for all and a statement released the day of birdies and medicare for all bill the statement claims and i quote self-proclaimed socialist senator Bernie Sanders is proposing a total government takeover of health care that would actually hurt seniors eliminate private health insurance for a hundred and eighty million Americans and cripple our economy and future generations with unprecedented debt okay one sentence for health care Corrections let's do this first I'd like to point out that the total government takeover is definitely moving from private insurance which people hate because you know it regularly kills in bankrupts people to public insurance like Medicare which people generally love and you don't have to take my word for it look at the stats 69% of Americans rate their health care coverage as excellent are good that's excluding of course the 12% of Americans who have no health care at all but when you break out the group over 65 the group of Americans who are eligible for Medicare that member jumps from 65 to 88% approval this segues into my second correction the fear-mongering about how Sanders wants to quote eliminate private health insurance is a total deflection you hear this one unfortunately from folks on both sides of the aisle this false equivalence between Sanders who wants to replace private insurance with universal single-payer coverage ie something better and Trump who wants to strip insurance for millions of Americans without providing any alternative Americans rightly fear losing their insurance because so far that can mean anything from background stress to a total disaster but under Medicare for all that would no longer be the case the thing is the people who are truly invested in maintaining private health insurance are the ones making money hand over fist by charging us high premiums ridiculous deductibles an astronomical co-pays if anyone tries this with you you should point out that people love their doctors not their insurance companies third Bernie's plan wouldn't hurt seniors it would expand the benefits they already get under Medicare to include vision hearing aids and dental services and fourth Medicare for all wouldn't cripple our economy Medicare for all costs two trillion dollars less than what we currently pay for a system that doesn't even adequately insure us all remember under Medicare for all all of those hefty premiums and deductibles and co-pays that simply go away between Matt and reduced administrative costs the average American will have more money in their pocket at the end of the month not less as Bernie says we can't afford not to switch away from our car system let's run through some other common attacks they say medicare-for-all will result in hospital closures we say if anything the opposite is true US hospitals in rural areas are already closing at an alarming rate 72 of them between 2010 and 2016 according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program the result is that there are now large stretches of this country that are virtual medical deserts why because providing medical care in those areas wasn't sufficiently profitable they say we'll have fewer doctors we say Medicare for all doesn't mean that we'll get to cut doctor salaries again the savings come from much lower administrative and drug cost plus doctors will no longer need to spend so much of their time arguing with private insurers trust us plenty of people will still want to become doctors they say quality of care will suffer we say quality of care is already suffering we have the worst health outcomes among major economies American women today are 50% more likely to die in childbirth than our mothers and life expectancies are actually declining this and the richest country in the world this is not radical stuff many other countries including our neighbor to the north have adopted systems very similar to what Sanders is proposing we're not reinventing the wheel here the only good reason to oppose Medicare for all is if your name is Mark Bertolini that's Aetna CEO mark if you're listening to this what can I say I'm sure you'll get by with your 76 million net worth perhaps the biggest red herring involves this notion of choice the fact of the matter is is that under Medicare for all you're a choice of health coverage disappears what happens is you wind up eliminating choice you your only choice is the plan that the government offers government-run health care takes medical decisions away from patients that means you and puts them in the hands of bureaucrats but the only choice being protected is the choice of insurance companies not to extend coverage to you you don't have choice when you can't afford the treatments your doctor prescribes you don't have a choice when you're a stay-at-home parent and you lose insurance because your partner dies think about it if you have to work to get health insurance but being sick means you can't work it doesn't make any sense no one would choose this kind of a system and we don't have to put up with it we've been talking about medicare-for-all in fairly general terms up until this point but the reality is that not everyone is equally affected by the flaws in our healthcare system Hispanics are the most underinsured population in this country about one out of every three non elderly Hispanics are uninsured the number is one in four for black Americans so I talked to dr. Heather got me a senior policy advisor for the Bernie Sanders campaign about how the Bernie Sanders Medicare for all bill really does help us all so dr. Ghani you wrote an article earlier this year and Jacobin where you argued that health insurance and racial justice efforts go hand in hand when I read that I remember thinking about the black lives matter platform which actually includes universal health care as one of its important prongs can you talk a little bit more about the relationship between racial justice and health access sure the impetus for writing that article was I had a fascinating conversation with a reparations advocate and she's for Medicare for all not because it's a silver bullet for addressing racial disparities in health care but because it's an absolutely necessary first step and part of the reason is because black and Latino populations are the absolute least likely to be insured and most likely to be underinsured I started to look at what was out there there wasn't a lot in terms of legitimizing Medicare for all by looking at it through racial lens but there was a study that I found on the VA and it was in particular about cardiovascular patients at the VA and they had concluded that because you know the Veterans Administration is like a quasi single-payer institution that some black patients actually did better then than their white counterparts so I thought well you know that that's really that's actually an argument right for Medicare for all there were other people other studies out there on the Medicare system and certainly there are racial disparities in Medicare that Medicare for all would not address right they exist in that system and likely medicare-for-all would have to be more targeted toward point of contact discrimination but the disparities reduced after people entered into the Medicare system and then there's an intersection between race class and gender right that the coverage of reproductive health and maternity health black women are 243 times more likely to die from pregnancy related or childbirth related complications and that is yes staggering and the highest in women's health and I did not know this until today that Erika Gardner was one of our beloved surrogates in 2016 it was suspected that this was the cause of her death these kind of disparities medicare for all would improve access to those services and that's part of the reason why this is the high mortality rate because of lack of access of to services there's also the dimension and this is this is in the bill of home and community-based care so which is which is largely women's work right right and that has to do of course with job discrimination and also gender relationships between men and women and who don't exactly yeah and I have personal experience with this because my my mother who recently passed away thank you her husband had Parkinson's disease and my mother was 75 he was 80 and he wasn't eligible for more than an hour like every other day of home care so she was in a position having to care for him Parkinson's disease is a serious disease elderly people fall they break bones so they can't shower his hands had tremors so there was a lot of really basic things that he couldn't do that she had to help him with and she was essentially alone she no roar community in Maine you know is not a lot of people around to kind of pick up the slack as soon as she kind of stepped away from his care we his family kind of stepped in and our family stepped in she became very ill and it was just clear to us that she had not been able to take care of herself because of the stress and the the exertion associated with caring for him I think that's a really powerful point the extent to which because women play an outsized role in home care that in in the same way that Medicare for all disproportionately benefits blacks and Latinos women are another historically marginalized group that are going to end up being disproportionately benefited by the provisions of the Medicare for all bill which offer more support for for home care your story resonates with me also because you know it's something very similar was happening recently with my my own grandparents my grandfather had been had a stroke about a decade ago and had been bedridden ever since my grandmother was a registered nurse who hasn't worked in years because she who suffered an injury moving a patient a back injury moving a patient from a gurney to a bed now she's in a position where she was having to help my grandfather move around she already can't help people move around obviously that's how she incurred her injury in the first place but she's in these tense situations with him where there's an emergency he has to get up and go to the bathroom there's not home health it's available and it's exactly exacerbated her own condition and after he passed now her own health is declining as well and it's this vicious cycle yeah so I also wanted to ask you a little bit about an article that you mentioned we were chit-chatting yesterday that was written by vanu Kirk in the Atlantic last year that highlighted the ways in which the fight for health care in this country has been linked to the fight for civil rights there was a bill that was about discrimination and hospitals that required it was like a labor oriented bill mm-hmm yeah it was a the n-double-a-cp sued a segregated hospital over segregation and with the court finally ended up holding is that any institution that received federal funds couldn't abide by separate but whoa what that ended up doing once we got Medicare and Medicaid and then in the mid 1960s I was at the first case was in 1963 case and by 1965 i'ma get Medicare and Medicaid and all of the hospitals in the country basically started receiving public funding they basically meant all of the hospitals in the country got to desegregate so this is an interesting way where there's this coupling of this fight for equality and a fight for healthcare that stretches back to the silver rights era and probably before that and so you know one of the first points you made was that sure every inequity in healthcare is not going to be resolved by Medicare for all but in the same way that it's a fallacy to say well breaking up the banks cure racism no I mean we should still break up the banks right right and then of course racial disparities and how the financial crisis hurt people right black people lost 40 percent of their net wealth of our net wealth and the crisis in the same way there's this way in which just because the Medicare for all bill doesn't do it all we need to keep talking about how to supplement it and how to deal with point of access discrimination etc it is such a crucial foundational backbone aspect to getting obsessed antov equality across racial and other marginalized historically marginalized groups that those who would seek to marginalize it by pointing to the fact that it doesn't do it all are really doing a disservice to the groups that they're trying to help one of the things that I think people forget in the civil rights movement there were figures like a philip Randolph right who who had the freedom budget and if you look at the freedom budget it is pretty identical to what senator Sanders is proposing yeah I think Randolph used to use the language of the common man right which is which is very similar right to the Senators project but this was in the context right of the fight the struggle for civil rights and you know of course that's around the same time that King arrives it you know having to to confront poverty and getting interested in labor issues and this is I think where economic and racial justice sort of blend and then they kind of separated away right apart from each other and yeah and so I see this moment as a time when that relationship is this being once again recognized and addressed it might surprise people to hear this this quote but it shouldn't from dr. Martin Luther King he said of all the inequalities that exist the injustice and health care is the most shocking in the human yeah yep that's a great famous important quote to remember the other thing I wanted to say with regard to what you were talking about in terms of the what medicare-for-all doesn't do I was speaking with one of the senator Sanders health staffers and she she made that same point and I mean she's got her hands right and I mean helped build this bill out right really got into the weeds on it and she said but we're still gonna have to figure out ways of doing targeted repairing right of what's been what's happened in in certain communities and if we can't get this baseline of Medicare for all then we're not gonna be able to solve the bigger problems within the healthcare system this is like an ongoing preoccupation for me anybody who follows me on Twitter and knows how online I am has has heard me make this argument but it's like the piece of that question that's like well will this cure racism that project is an undeniably important project but it's also perhaps the most difficult to pin down how do you about a policy level cure racism so it's not that I'm not interested in that piece you know we'll break up the basic yuria-sama medicare-for-all cure racism the answer is no and it's not that I don't deeply care about the fact that racism is a persistent and ongoing ill it's that in light of an absence of workable way is from a political perspective to change the kind of hearts and minds of people to ignore the constructive substantive structural ways that you can start to change outcomes seems to be perverse yeah the way I kind of think about it is like the institutions that foster integration have been completely defunded public education is a place I mean not New York City now right because public schools are the most segregated schools in the country and we are pre Brown versus Board of Education but if this system is working and properly funded these are places where people learn from each other right and get used to seeing each other and living with each other and also learning history and different versions of history and when you defund those institutions and you allow people to live separately yeah right then you know you're kind of not dealing with the core at the cultural level unions are another thing yeah right unions are you know places where often you know unions can be diverse institutions absolutely and to state the obvious and see you know anymore that's the other thing I really like about what senator Sanders program does is it's about reinvesting in the public sphere and trying to reinvest in the institutions that can actually solve some of these problems are not solved but at least you know mitigate them and then you don't have you know the the likelihood of fake news and all the racial stuff that Trump says right it falls on deaf ears because people know better right but you have a weak education system and don't get me wrong I don't think education is the Silver Bullet either onerous but certainly if you degrade it you're really stuck I really appreciate you coming to talk to me and working so hard on all of these amazing policies that are making structural changes that are getting us a little bit closer day by a day a lot closer quite frankly to genuine equality thank you yeah absolutely that's it for this week's show a big thank you to those of you who sent in comments about our first episode to hear the burn at Bernie Sanders calm you had some great suggestions that we will be rolling out in coming episodes including episode transcripts available at Bernie Sanders comm keep those ratings and reviews coming in on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts til next week


  1. Hey Bernie why does Jeff Weaver your employ always call people raciest for asking questions? VTDigger.ORG
    Is it true Jeff Weaver tells people he was in the USMC but was not?

  2. Hey Bernie why do you keep Charles Rocha on your staff? He was convicted of embezzling cash from small unions in Vermont.
    And that's not nice.

  3. Erica Garner, you are rembered with respect, gratitude and a wish that you and your father had received justice. We will work to elect Bernie for you, and the others you worked for x


  5. I keep hearing how Bernie is falling behind the polls, especially amongst the younger voters. I hope it's not true; and even if it is, I hope he'll rise to the challenge

  6. Bernie Sanders can't win. The economy is doing incredibly well, unemployment is at all-time lows in some states and Bernie Sanders is talking about how supposedly horrible capitalism is and raising taxes on the people who are keeping American businesses flying high.

  7. Trump and healthcare huh Bernie? Yeah, we get it. Distract from your awful status quo foreign policies and throw in the towel on party reform. A party which in a million years will never pass a single progressive initiative and you know it.

  8. Hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters will lose their healthcare and die a horrible death because they listened to 18 year old Russian trolls on the internet….Google Canadian Medicare on Wikipedia …Canada is a capitalist country with a medicare system put in place over 60 years ago. This should be the American model along with an private insurance option.

  9. Brianna you are doing a great job. Thank you “from the bottom of my heart”.( One of my favorite Bernie sayings)💕 Always feeling the Bern🔥

  10. Oh I have a healthcare story for you. I'm only 27 and it has affected me in so many ways. Lack of mental health care drove me towards self harm, suicidal ideation, and drugs. Doctors were pushing pain pills on me when I was 22. That's just some of it though. I have ptsd and am sober now, but the point is if I don't get healthcare soon, I may not be able to work or survive or be able to function in society.

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