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Sanders and Cruz debate ObamaCare on CNN: live coverage
Cruz, Sanders close debate on ObamaCare: Broken promises or a step in the right direction
The debate came to an end with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) arguing ObamaCare had failed to live up to its promises, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said it is a step in the right direction.
Cruz pointed to promises like "If you like your plan, you can keep it" as proof that the law had failed.
"Those are broken promises," he said.
Cruz called for more options for American consumers.
"It was government control that messed this all up," he said, adding: "Instead we're going to give you choice."
He called for the institution of long-promoted Republican policies like allowing insurance to be sold across state lines and expanding health savings accounts.
Sanders stressed his theme that ObamaCare is a step in the right direction toward a single-payer system.
He said ObamaCare had provided crucial consumer protections, like for people with pre-existing conditions. "Under Ted's idea all of that is gone, you are on your own," Sanders said.
But he said there is more work to be done, since some people are still struggling. "What kind of craziness is this?" he said. "We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world."
Cruz, Sanders find a bit of agreement
The senators found some agreement on the area of high drug prices, saying that lower-cost drugs should be imported from abroad.
Sanders, though, called for going further and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
"The pharmaceutical industry owns the United States Congress," Sanders said.
"It's not just Republicans," he added.
In addition to importation, Cruz pointed to speeding up the Food and Drug Administration's approval process for new drugs.
Cruz casts doubt on no-cost birth control
Cruz, asked if a replacement plan would continue the ObamaCare requirement that insurers cover birth control at no cost to the patient, did not directly answer but indicated that the answer under a Republican is "no."
Cruz spoke out against ObamaCare's mandates in general. "These mandates are hurting people," he said, saying they were driving up the cost of healthcare.
He quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: "Eventually you run out of other people's money."
Cruz also spoke out against ObamaCare's requirement on what insurance plans must cover, saying older people shouldn't be forced to buy plans with maternity coverage, for example.
Cruz questioned over Medicaid expansion
A woman with multiple sclerosis who moved from Texas to Maryland because Maryland accepted ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion asks Cruz whether Republicans will cover her after repealing ObamaCare.
Cruz responds that the Medicaid expansion, which was accepted by more than 30 states, has ended up increasing demand on Medicaid. Cruz also claims Medicaid consumers have worse health outcomes than private users.
But moderator Jake Tapper comes in and asks the Maryland woman whether Cruz answered her question. She shakes her head "no."
"What happens to Carol?" Tapper asks.
Cruz insists that making insurance plans portable and other regulations backed by Republicans would make insurance access easier to obtain.
Sanders mocks Republican idea of "access" to healthcare, compares to Trump mansions
Sanders dismissed the idea put forward by Cruz that everyone should have "access" to healthcare as a ploy.
Cruz echoed a common Republican message that all people should have "access" to health coverage, rather than that everyone should have coverage.
Democrats say that is a word game that really means some people will be left unable to afford coverage.
"Access to healthcare is a right," Cruz said.
Sanders responded: "Access to what? You want to buy one of Donald Trump's mansions? You have 'access' to do that as well."
Sanders tells small business owner that she should pay for employees' healthcare
In response to a Texas hair salon owner who says she can't expand her business because going past 50 employees would mean paying for insurance, Sanders tells her she should have to buy insurance.
"If you have more than 50 people, yes, you should be providing health insurance," Sanders said.
That is the requirement currently under ObamaCare. And Sanders tells the small business owner that, whether she has to reduce pay or raise costs, it's unfair for her to compete with a salon that is providing its employees with healthcare.
Sanders pressed further, asking the salon owner what would happen to her currently uninsured employees if they got sick. She admitted that she didn't know.
Cruz, though, said that the rule is hurting small business.
"Millions of small businesses are being told by the Democrats: Tough luck we don't care if it drives you out of business," Cruz said.
Sanders said the ideal solution would be a Medicare-for-all single-payer system that would provide insurance for the workers without the owner having to pay for it.
Sanders says U.S. has more rationing of healthcare
Sanders argued that the U.S. actually rations healthcare more than other rich countries.
"This country has more rationing than any other industrialized country on earth, except that rationing is done by income," he said.
"If you are very rich you can get the best healthcare in the world," he added, but noted that the poor and uninsured often can't get care they need.
Sanders made the argument in response to Cruz's point that more government-heavy systems in other countries often have delays for care.
Cruz read off instances of what he said were recent times in the United Kingdom that people had to wait too long for care.
Cruz ties ACA to Trump votes
Sanders on Cruz's birth in Canada: "Look at the results!"
Cruz says that he's familiar with Canada's single-payer healthcare, having been born there.
In fact, he says his birth there could be Sanders's best argument against Canadian healthcare.
"Look at the results!" Sanders jokes.
Sanders asked about bad ObamaCare plan; Sanders and Cruz clash on rationing
Florida nurse practitioner Melissa Borkowski wants to know why her plan-$1,000 monthly insurance with a hefty $13,000 deductible-is so bad.
"Why should my family be forced to pay so much for an insurance plan that is essentially useless?" Borkowski says.
Sanders agrees that it's "totally absurd"-but asks why the U.S. pays so much as a country on healthcare, instead touting single-payer healthcare in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Cruz uses his response to say U.S. healthcare costs so much because it's so good. Single-payer, Cruz claims, means rationing.
"We get a lot more, and a lot better healthcare," Cruz says.
Sanders counters that the U.S. already has rationing in the form of medical procedures people who need them can't pay for.
"It's just people don't have the money to buy what they need," Sanders says.
Cruz argues Republicans would protect people with pre-existing conditions
Sen. Ted Cruz responded to a question from a woman in the audience with breast cancer worried about losing coverage if ObamaCare is repealed. She said she is "alive because of ObamaCare."
Cruz said that Republican plans that have been introduced in recent years protect people with pre-existing conditions.
"All of them protect people in your situation," Cruz said.
Republican plans generally protect people with pre-existing conditions only if they are switching plans, in contrast to ObamaCare, which also protects people if they are uninsured and signing up for the first time.
Sanders said that Cruz was in "direct contradiction of everything you ran for president on" by pledging to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Cruz, Sanders find common ground on reimportation-briefly
It's not all barbs between the senators, who have mostly jousted past one another on different healthcare issues. Cruz touts drug reimportation-a method to lower prescription drug costs that Sanders also recently voted for-as a way to lower costs.
President Trump has also made gestures toward reimportation.
But Cruz quickly pivots to complaints about FDA regulations holding back new drugs.
Sanders to Cruz: Let's work on single-payer
Sanders made Cruz an offer he is rather unlikely to accept: work with him on single-payer healthcare.
"I find myself in agreement with Ted, he's right," Sanders said after Cruz spoke critically of insurance companies.
"Ted, let's work together on a Medicare for all single payer system," Sanders said.
Cruz, of course, strongly opposes a single-payer system, which even many Democrats do not support.
Cruz opens by saying ObamaCare promises broken
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) opened the debate by saying President Obama's promises on the health law have been broken and the law needs to be repealed.
"A series of promises were made to us by President Obama, number one, most infamously, if you like your plan you can keep your plan," he said.
He also pointed to promises that premiums would decline by $2,500 per family.
"It's driven up the cost of healthcare, it's reduced your choice, it's reduced your freedom," Cruz said.
Cruz said the election was a "referendum" on the law, and the voters made their choice clear.
Sanders warns about ObamaCare repeal
Sanders kicks off the night by listing the people who could be affected by ObamaCare repeal. If you're one of the people who has received insurance because ofthe Affordable Care Act, Sanders says: "Forget about it, you're gone, you're off health insurance"
Sanders touts one of ObamaCare's more popular provisions-a ban on denying insurance over preexisting conditions. Without ObamaCare, Sanders says, people who would have been denied insurance will "be paying those bills for the rest of your life, or maybe you'll go bankrupt."
But Sanders, who called for single-payer healthcare during his campaign, isn't here just to defend the status quo in the health industry. He closes his opening statement with a call for single-payer healthcare, with ObamaCare as a step towards that.
"The United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right," Sanders says. "I believe that we should move in that direction."
Cruz, Sanders to debate ObamaCare
Former presidential hopefuls and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will debate ObamaCare and what could replace it Tuesday night on CNN.
The 90-minute debate will air live online and on the network starting at 9 PM ET. CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate.
Reporters from The Hill will post updates and context on the debate here. Healthcare reporter Peter Sullivan will also be sending Twitter updates about the debate.
The face-off between Sanders and Cruz comes as President Trump and congressional Republicans struggle to deal with the challenge of repealing a law unpopular with their base while still avoiding a hasty replacement that could leave millions more Americans uninsured. After initially calling for an immediate repeal, Trump has relented, saying instead that the repeal and replace process could last into 2018.
Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, worry that a botched repeal effort could hurt their reelection chances, according to a secret recording taken at their party retreat in Philadelphia.
Cruz has offered his own ObamaCare replacement plan which featured longtime Republican goals of allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines and the elimination of a mandate to purchase insurance.
For his part, Sanders called for a single-payer healthcare program to replace the Affordable Care Act that he dubbed "Medicare for All."
Both Cruz and Sanders were frustrated in their 2016 presidential bids, losing to Trump and Hillary Clinton respectively in their party's primaries.