Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders described health care as “very, very complicated,” hours after President Donald Trump said, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
In an interview Monday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sanders laughed over the remark and laid into the complexity of the issue by rolling out his experience working on the legislative side.
“Some of us who were sitting on the health education committee, who went to meeting after meeting after meeting, who heard from dozens of people, who stayed up night after night trying to figure out this thing, yeah we got a clue,” Sanders said. “When you provide health care in a nation of 320 million people, yeah, it is very, very complicated.”
Sanders cast the Republican position on Obamacare — “repeal and replace” — as overly simplistic and said now that Republicans were confronting the law from a position of power, they would understand they have to “get beyond rhetoric.”
The former presidential candidate also said it was not incumbent upon his side to work with Republicans on their agenda. He offered the decision as a choice between working with them to repeal the legislation, which he said he would not do, and working with them to improve the legislation, which he said needed to happen.
“Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? Far from it,” Sanders said.
Trump regularly has said Obamacare is a failure that must be repealed and replaced. He pledged to put forward a replacement plan in the near future as he and members of his administration discussed the issue Monday with the nation’s governors and major health industry figures.
Speaking outside the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We have to step in and prevent Obamacare from getting worse, from collapsing, and we will replace it with a law that is better.”
While the plan that Republican leaders are working on will likely focus on access to private health care, Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, implored people to follow the example of many other developed countries and install universal health care.
“We remain today, and let’s not forget it, the only major country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people. We pay the highest prices by far for prescription drugs. Let’s address those issues,” Sanders said.