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Aetna CEO called for 'debate' about single-payer healthcare: report

Aetna CEO called for 'debate' about single-payer healthcare: report
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The CEO of health insurer Aetna told employees in a private meeting that the U.S. should consider a single-payer healthcare system, Vox reported Friday.

“Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation,” Mark Bertolini reportedly said after being asked about the possibility of the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal plan paving the way for a single-payer system.

Earlier this week, Aetna announced it would pull out of the last two states where it was participating in ObamaCare’s markets, meaning it wouldn’t sell any plans for next year on the health exchanges. 

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In a private meeting where Bertolini faced employee questions, one reportedly asked: “In the news media, it is reporting that the Republican health plan is paving the way to a single-payer system. What are your thoughts on that, and how would it impact Aetna?”

“If the government wants to pay all the bills, and employers want to stop offering coverage, and we can be there in a public private partnership to do the work we do today with Medicare, and with Medicaid at every state level, we run the Medicaid programs for them, then let’s have that conversation,” Bertolini responded.

The CEO "was certainly not advocating for a single-payer system," Aetna spokesperson T.J. Crawford wrote in an email.

Instead, he was indicating his openness to debating it “while pointing out that public-private partnerships have been the backbone of the more successful government health care programs (examples include administering Medicare Advantage or Medicaid managed care). In other words, partnering works when done the right way,” Crawford wrote. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (I-Vt.) staunchly advocated for a single-payer healthcare system during his Democratic presidential campaign last year, frequently referring to it as “Medicare for all.”