Sanders to Alexander: “Let's End Backroom Deals”

BURLINGTON, Vt., June 30 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, to “end backroom deals” and “begin the national discussion” on health care. 

“Instead of holding backroom meetings, Sen. McConnell, you and the Republican leadership must allow bi-partisan discussion as to how we improve the Affordable Care Act, not destroy it. I urge you to open up the process and allow the voices of more than just Republicans in the Senate to be heard,” Sanders wrote in a letter to Alexander.

There has been no debate, committee hearings, roundtables or walkthroughs in the Senate on the Republican health care plan. In contrast, there were 160 hours of debate on the Affordable Care Act and 100 committee hearings, roundtables and walkthroughs.

“The American people want open debate and hearings as to how we can improve the Affordable Care Act, not ways to destroy it through backroom deals made in Senator McConnell’s office. On an issue which impacts one-sixth of our economy, and the lives of every American, people want to hear from doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare professionals as to what the Republican plan means for their health and the health of their families. They do not want to see votes bought behind closed doors,” Sanders wrote. 

In the letter, Sanders argued that we must have an open debate about how to improve the Affordable Care Act. “In my view long-term, we need to join every major country on earth and guarantee health care as a right through a Medicare-for-all single payer system. Over the short-term, we need to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55, provide a public option in every state, and substantially lower prescription drug prices.”

We can disagree about policy, he wrote, “but you shouldn't disagree that we should have that debate.”

To read the letter, click here.