Sanders opposes federal Medicaid waiver for Vermont

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders says he opposes Governor Jim Douglas’s plan to reform the state’s Medicaid program.

The governor is seeking a waiver from the federal government to give the state much greater flexibility in using federal funds. In return, the Bush administration would be able to cap state spending for these programs and the federal government would no longer reimburse the state for individual medical services.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Sanders says this block grant approach is a mistake:

(Sanders) “I like the idea of greater flexibility but it is absolutely imperative that we keep that entitlement guarantee. Because what we’re seeing in Medicare, what we’re seeing in Social Security is the doing away with those guarantees which have sustained tens of millions of people who have won those rights to certain minimal benefits in health care or in retirement.”

(Host) Sanders says problems affecting Medicaid are really a symptom of the crisis facing the country’s overall health care system:

(Sanders) “And the question that we have to ask ourselves is not just Medicaid. Why is it that we are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right of citizenship? And second of all, equally important, why do we spend twice as much per person on health care as any other nation on earth?”

(Host) Sanders says he’d like to see the United States move towards a single payer health care system. It’s a step that he says would provide more comprehensive care without any additional costs.

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