Andy calls Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to talk about M4A. Yes, they discuss Medicare For All but they also get into the Senator’s new strategy for ending the pandemic: Masks For All. It’s something the two of them have worked on together. Bernie also discusses the political dynamics within the Democratic Party and the Senate as a whole, along with how he and Vice President Biden are collaborating on major policies.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt.
Follow Senator Sanders on Twitter and Instagram @BernieSanders.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Here’s the latest CDC report on how long the coronavirus stays in the air: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/9/20-1806_article
- Watch the aerosolization video Zach mentions in his Zach Fact: https://twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1281264040099094528
- Read more about the Paycheck Security Act that Senator Sanders introduced in May: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-warner-jones-and-blumenthal-introduce-paycheck-security-act-to-keep-millions-of-workers-on-payrolls-during-pandemic
- From Senator Sanders: An Emergency Response to the Coronavirus Epidemic: https://berniesanders.com/issues/emergency-response-coronavirus-pandemic/
- From Senator Sanders: Priorities for the Next Coronavirus Relief Package: https://berniesanders.com/issues/priorities-next-coronavirus-relief-package/
- Want to write to or call your Congresspeople? Here’s a directory for the House of Representatives: https://www.house.gov/representatives and for the Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- Check out the Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations: https://joebiden.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/UNITY-TASK-FORCE-RECOMMENDATIONS.pdf
- Watch Senator Sanders ask Dr. Fauci if he supports giving free masks and vaccines to everyone in America: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/video-audio/fauci-agrees-masks-and-vaccines-for-all
- Here’s the new reusable, silicone rubber face mask Andy mentioned: http://news.mit.edu/2020/reusable-silicone-rubber-face-mask-0709
[00:40] Bernie Sanders: Would you support an effort to greatly increase the production of high quality masks in this country, and distribute them free of charge to every household in America?
[00:55] Anthony Fauci: Yes, of course. I think masks are extremely important and we keep hammering home. And I think what you just mentioned is as important. There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected. So it’s people protecting each other. Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it’s giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.
[01:23] Andy Slavitt: Welcome to In the Bubble. This is Andy Slavitt. The voices you just heard are some of the most distinctive voices in our culture, both New York borough voices, Dr. Anthony Fauci and our guest today, Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is going to be a sort of a surprise guest on the show. He and I had a chance to talk this week about a very exciting initiative he and I are working on, which we will lay out for you on the show. And it has a lot to do with how we successfully combat this virus together. And we talked about a number of other things which were great as well. I think the big talk around the country now is of what’s safe and what’s not safe to do. We have a kind of new focus around the southern states, where I think people are indoors a lot. That’s because of something that we’re gonna talk to Zach about, which is, you know, when people are indoors, the virus spreads more. So we’ll talk a little bit about that. We have been doing some work this week to get states and cities to close down bars. Don’t be mad at me. I still think they can do things to-go. And I know that it’s tough on the bar owners and we’re going to do all we can to support them. But unfortunately, it’s a source of a lot of spread. So as things get colder near you, and you end up indoors because of the cold, then things may look a little bit more like they look in Arizona and Texas where you are. So be very, very, very vigilant. We are not through this thing yet. So, Zach, let’s talk about aerosolization.
[03:32] Zach Slavitt: Yeah. So basically, all the spread that we thought was coming from surfaces, plus all the spread we knew was coming from other methods of transmission, it is seeming like almost all of that is actually coming from aerosolization and close contact with people. Which means that it’s just that much more infectious when breathing near someone, coughing near someone, talking near someone who has COVID-19. But there are ways to properly ventilate and reduce the risk. Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding on Twitter tweeted out how in an experiment using smoke, they were able to clear the room with two open doors on opposite sides in only seven minutes. But with one door, it took 45 minutes. But having a fan or two fans could reduce the time by 50 percent, or even as much as 70 percent.
[04:28] Andy Slavitt: So this new learning, Zach, is that we should be concerned about places with poor ventilation. And if there is a building, whether it’s our office, our home, a school, church, we ought to be ventilating it somehow. And whether that’s open doors, open windows, fans, those are all the kinds of things that we’re talking about.
[04:51] Zach Slavitt: Yeah. So we know that it doesn’t really spread that well outdoors. Basically, the more you can make your inside like the outside with a fan, which makes a breeze, or opening a door, which gives you a little bit of that outside feel — the more you can do that, the less the virus is able to spread.
[05:10] Andy Slavitt: So feels to me like schools ought to be going through the processes of figuring out if they are going to open, how they can properly ventilate. All that said. Now let’s get to Bernie Sanders.
[05:38] Andy Slavitt: Senator, it’s so great to have you. Boy, it sure feels like 2020 is putting us through all kinds of tests of who we are as a country, as a people. And your voice over the last number of years, if you go back and listen, it really talked about a lot of things that I think people are seeing and experiencing right now, whether it’s in the healthcare system or the inequalities, etc. As you’ve looked at the past few months, or over the course of this year as it relates to the pandemic and as it relates to other things, how has this confirmed or given you a different perspective on what you’ve seen about in the American healthcare system?
[06:18] Bernie Sanders: Well, Andy, as I think you have implied, we are living in literally an unprecedented moment in the modern history of our country, if not the history of our country. We’re dealing with so much. We’re dealing with a pandemic that has now taken 135,000 lives, infected well over three million people. And we’re seeing a surge in state after state after state right now as a result of the pandemic. We’re seeing an economic meltdown where tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. They’ve lost their health insurance. You got millions of families in this country struggling to put food on the table in the wealthiest country on earth. And now you’re seeing a wave of evictions, people being thrown out of their apartments and their homes. So this is surely a very strange moment, dangerous moment in American history and at the head of our government, we have a president who clearly is unprepared to deal with these crises, who is becoming, in my view, increasingly paranoid, thinks that everybody is against him and he is this great genius fighting everybody. So it’s a moment in which Congress must do everything that we can to protect the American people. We’ll be going back next week, literally after the July 4th break, and we need to pass what we call a COVID 4 package, which does everything from a health perspective that we can. I know we’re going to talk about that in a moment to do our best to curb this pandemic from an economic perspective, we’ve got to make sure that people continue to have decent income, are not evicted from their homes, have the food that they need. So those are the short-term things that we’ve got to focus on.
[08:14] Andy Slavitt: So let let’s talk about some of those things. And particularly when people look to the White House or the federal government, whether they voted for them or didn’t, in a crisis like this, and expect to see leadership that they don’t see, they look around for where else can they look, and they look at the governors. They do look at the Congress because there’s so much that can only be done by the Congress. You put forward a proposal with some other senators around paycheck security, and I think that’s so germane to most of the people out there right now who are so worried because they don’t know what their future is going to look like. Can you spend a second talk a little bit about how politics affects your ability to do something like that?
[08:58] Bernie Sanders: I mean, I wish I could tell you this was a brilliant idea that I thought of, but it’s not, it’s a fairly common-sense approach that is being used throughout Europe. Countries around the world understand that if we do not want to see a massive amount of human suffering, and if we do not want to see the economy completely tank into a horrible, horrible depression, we have got to put money into the pockets of working people who have lost their jobs. And throughout Europe, in one form or another, what they are doing is saying to workers, you know what, you are going to continue to get a paycheck whether or not you are working, and the government is footing the bill. Each country is doing it a little bit differently. But that is the goal: to continue to put a paycheck into the hands of working people. And here in the Congress, I’ve introduced legislation with colleagues of mine in the Senate who really have different perspectives. We come from different political points of view, but we agree that this is a good approach. Mark Warner of Virginia, who is, I would say, may be a Democratic centrist moderate; Doug Jones, who is from Alabama, was on the conservative side; Elizabeth Warren, who is a progressive — we have come forward with an idea that says that we should make sure that workers continue to get the paychecks that they previously got so that they can take care of their basic needs. But in addition to that, I think we have got to extend unemployment benefits and continue that $600 bonus so that working people can buy the food that they need and not feel the incredible stress that some people are suffering from right now. And I believe also if somebody believes that healthcare is a human right, that we need to move toward Medicare For All in this pandemic. At the very least, when people are hurting, when people are nervous about coming down with a virus or taking care of other basic healthcare needs during the crisis, we need to guarantee health care to all people as a right, not worry about out-of-pocket expenses. Now, people say the response is, well, Bernie, great ideas. It’s going to be expensive. The answer is yes, it will be expensive, but I think the alternative is much, much worse in terms of a significant, significant collapse of our economy and massive suffering on the part of working families.
[11:36] Andy Slavitt: If I’m not mistaken, we’ve just spent three to four trillion dollars. We’re not done. And the blow to the economy is several trillion dollars more. So, as I think you’ve always said, the cost of not doing this is something people don’t properly account for.
[11:50] Bernie Sanders: Absolutely. I mean, and we’re seeing the obvious cost. The 135,000 people who have died, and the fear that many more will die. But we’re not looking at, I think, the invisible cost, if you like, of the trauma that so many people, including our children, are now experiencing. What does that mean? How do you put a dollar number on children who have missed months and months of school, may not be getting back to school, may not be graduating college? The impact on higher education in America. A lot of colleges are going to be shutting down and so forth and so on. So I think in this particular unprecedented moment in history, we’ve got to act in an unprecedented manner and stand up for working families.
[14:42] Andy Slavitt: Can I ask you about the politics for a second? We have. if I’m calculating right, nine or 10 legislative days left until the end of July, which is typically when the recess period begins. It’s also, if I’m not mistaken, when unemployment insurance expires. And it feels like Senator McConnell is taking us down to the wire to get a package done where people are at home are getting increasingly, increasingly nervous. The only thing I’ve heard publicly from Mitch McConnell is that he wants employers to have liability protection so that if people get hurt or injured or sick, that they don’t have to pay anything from it. That’s the only thing that I’ve heard. Whereas what I heard you just talk about would not only give people peace of mind, the paycheck security, but it seems like the number one way to keep the economy moving because you put money in people’s pockets. And the only way the economy moves is if they spend some of that money. So I know that everybody is divided and everything else, but I think this is a war, it’s a crisis. How are the parties going to possibly play out here in the next week or so?
[15:50] Bernie Sanders: Well, you know, God only knows. But I’ll give you my best guess, is originally McConnell and other Republican leaders were saying, hey, we passed a $3 trillion dollar bill. Let’s see how it works. We’re not in a hurry. There is no sense of urgency. I think that was Mitch McConnell’s phrase. I think they are beginning, to be honest with you, Andy, changing their tune. And it is up to the American people. I believe in grassroots politics and I believe people must stand up and fight for their rights. And the American people at this moment have got to tell McConnell and Republican leadership and Trump, you know what? There is a sense of urgency.
[16:27] Bernie Sanders: There’s a sense of urgency when millions of people are unemployed, not getting a paycheck. Sense of urgency when people are being evicted from their homes. I can tell you in Vermont that I know it’s true all over the country when we are distributing food, you got car after car, lines and lines of calls lining up. People never thought that they would be in that position. There is a sense of urgency in this country and we’ve got to respond to that. Now, I think a month ago all the Republicans were saying, well, we don’t have to do anything. I think that tone is now changing. And I think if we do our job right as progressives, if the American people stand up, we can be speaking and passing a major, major piece of legislation that extends unemployment benefits, that guarantees every person in this country a monthly check until the crisis is over. That guarantees healthcare to all people during the crisis. I think those are doable achievements. I think we can achieve that if we stand up and fight. So I think the momentum on this issue is with us, sadly, because of all of the pain that the American people are experiencing. And at the end of the day, Republicans’ hearts may not be compassionate. They may not want to do the right thing, but they also want to get reelected. They want to retain control of the Senate. And I do believe you’ll see them responding to the pain of the American people.
[17:54] Andy Slavitt: And so what I hear you saying is people need to get involved. As involved as they get during election season, if there’s ever a time to get involved.
[18:04] Bernie Sanders: Absolutely. I think it is absolutely possible, if the American people stand up and demand that in the next several weeks, we can pass significant legislation that would ease the stress level of so many of our people and provide for the working people of this country in the midst of this terrible crisis that we’re in.
[18:25] Andy Slavitt: We’re going to put in the show notes some links for people who want to get involved and want to send a message to Congress that this is important. Now, speaking of people involved, Senator, I may have mentioned to you before that I have a co-host on this show. It’s my 18 year old son, Zach. The only thing he’s willing to do with me is to be on this podcast. He gets to ask a question that he doesn’t clear with me. And then I want to talk about an exciting announcement that you’re pushing forward.
[18:51] Zach Slavitt: Senator Sanders, I’m just wondering, how do you think that Democratic Party can unify for the upcoming election and the next several months, given that there were some turnout issues with the previous election that may have cost the party the election?
[19:06] Bernie Sanders: That’s a very good question. And thank you for your interest in politics. And I urge you to get your friends and classmates involved as well. You guys are the future of this country and our generation. My generation has not done very well by you. So you’re going to have to do better than we did. But to do that, you’re going to have to be involved. It is no great secret that there are significant ideological differences of opinion within the Democratic Party. But I think right now, everybody, regardless of whether they are progressive, moderate or conservative Democrats, understand that the major goal that we have is to defeat Donald Trump, who I think is the most dangerous president, if not in the modern history of this country, than in the entire history of our country. And everybody understands that. As you may know, Vice President Biden and I sat down and helped develop a number of task forces, six of them dealing with the major issues facing our country, the economy and health care, climate change, education, immigration, criminal justice reform. And he appointed a number of folks to those task forces and I did the same. And they worked very, very hard. And they ended up coming up with some recommendations, which I think, please, neither side. We would have liked to have seen more, and maybe some of the Biden people would have liked to have seen less. But at the end of the day, there was a coming together, a compromise document, which I think, if implemented, would make Vice President Biden’s administration the most progressive since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. That’s an example of people coming together, making compromises or hammering out policy papers which are going to work for the American people.
[20:56] Bernie Sanders: And in the next four months, I think all of us have got to do everything we can to get out the vote. That is especially true of people your age. The good news is that young people 18 to 30 are very anti-Republican. I think two out of three of those people will not vote for the Republican Party. The bad news is that the voter turnout among those people is not particularly high. So we have got to work very hard to get that group of people voting, get what we call non-traditional voters. People are so disgusted with the political process, they don’t vote. We’ve got to get them to vote as well. And I think if we do that, we can do just fine and defeat Trump. But thanks very much for your involvement, and I hope you’ll work hard to get young people your age equally involved.
[21:46] Andy Slavitt: OK, so you’ve got an exciting announcement coming out today with regard to how to help us get past this pandemic in a way that helps everybody get past it regarding masks, you want to tell us a little bit about it?
[21:57] Bernie Sanders: The sad truth right now, it is a very sad truth, is that at the national level, at the White House level, we obviously have a crew of people who have not given us the kinds of national direction that the country needs. What a rational president would be doing is meeting with the most knowledgeable scientists and doctors in the country and in the world and say, what makes sense? What do we do? How do we curb this pandemic? But we have a president who, among many other issues, happens not to believe in science. So he’s busy condemning the CDC, is busy tracking Dr. Fauci and others. So the Congress is going to have to pick up the slack and do the right thing and create a national policy that is applicable, that works in every state in this country, not have states go out different directions, and cities and counties go out in different directions. So there are obvious things that we have to do. Everybody knows that this pandemic, this virus, is spread through the air. And that’s why we are doing our best to maintain social distancing. We also know that an effective way to protect people from transmitting the virus and getting the virus is through the use of masks. Not a radical idea. Everybody knows that. Our problem is we have a White House that has not believed in that reality, and, until just the other day, a president who did not wear a mask in public. A very, very poor example to give.
[23:37] Bernie Sanders: So what we are doing is trying to do, what other countries around the world — like South Korea, France, Turkey, Austria — are doing is, number one, making sure that every American household has good quality masks. And we do that by implementing the Defense Production Act, which says to companies that you will produce hundreds and hundreds of millions of high quality masks that we need. And at the top of our list, of course, are people who should get those masks, the medical professionals. I don’t know what it says about our healthcare system when today, four months after the pandemic has begun, we have doctors and nurses who still do not have N95 masks. So we have got to start the production of those masks for the medical people and for the general public. And then we’ve got to send those masks out to every household in this country. And that essentially is what our legislation is about. I don’t know whether we’re going to get it into the defense authorization bill, which is the first item up. But if not, we’re going to fight like hell to get it into the COVID 4 bill, which will come up right after that. So this is a simple way to save lives. The University of Washington did a study and they estimated that if 95 percent of the people in this country wore masks, we can save 30,000 lives, and maybe a trillion dollars in expenses. So this is common sense. It’s something we have to do. And I think we’ve got to continue the pressure on manufacturers to produce not only a sufficient supply of masks, but high-quality masks. Ideally, we would like to see something like N95 masks be made reusable. I know you and I chatted about this the other day, but that’s the goal of what we are striving for.
[25:35] Andy Slavitt: So real simple. Everybody in the country gets masks. So it’s one less thing they have to worry about. But you said something in there that I think people must have fallen off of their chair. Are you meaning to say, and we’ve talked about this, that for five months into this, we still don’t have factories around the country making enough masks? I mean, we’ve known about this since January or February. We are now in the middle of July. And that is almost unbelievable that that has not been done.
[26:11] Bernie Sanders: It is. I mean, given the productive capabilities of this country, our ability to produce almost anything, the fact that we have not used the Defense Production Act, that the White House has not demanded major corporations to start producing the quantity of masks and the quality of mass that we need is, in fact, unbelievable. Now, there is some mass production going on in the country. But what has happened, for a wide variety of other reasons, is we are dependent upon China and other countries for a whole lot of products that we need, whether it’s prescription drugs, masks or a whole lot of other things. So the time right now, especially during this emergency, is to work with large corporations or smaller companies, allowing them to make a fair profit. But the goal has got to be number one, as soon as possible make sure that every doctor, nurse and medical professional in this country has the quality masks that he or she needs. Number two, the American people have the best quality masks that are available and we get that out to them again as soon as we possibly can.
[27:21] Andy Slavitt: You and I talked about this the other day, but for those who don’t know this, South Korea in February did what Senator Sanders is talking about. They commandeered the production and made sure that everybody had enough masks, because even though they contained the virus to begin with, they knew, as I think we’re learning, that if you’re not hyper-vigilant, it’s going to come back. Now, there are a couple of more features to what you said that I think are quite interesting. One of them is this idea that we can have better and better technology, that there are masks that can be, well, fitting, reusable. And M.I.T., if I’m not mistaken, and five or six other places, have introduced these designs that they’re trying to get the FDA to approve. And, you know, the one thing that I know you value, and I value, is not just the production capacity of this country, but the innovative capacity, the design capacity that people have better ideas. And I think what I heard you say is that the Congress, in putting this forward, would bring the best of these ideas forward out there and acquire these masks for the public.
[28:31] Bernie Sanders: Absolutely. It is beyond comprehension to think that here in the United States of America, with all of our scientific expertise, with all of our productive capabilities — I mean, really, don’t tell me that in this country we cannot produce a mass quantity of high-quality masks. Of course we can. But we have a president who, as you well know, from day one has downplayed the danger of this pandemic, has done everything he could to deflect attention away from it, who lies all the time. And Congress is going to finally have to step up and demand that this be done. And this, again, according to the University of Washington, will save us if 95 percent of the American people are wearing masks. The estimate of some 30,000 lives are saved, but hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars are saved as well. So to me, this is kind of a no-brainer. And we hope we’re going to get this passed in the very near future.
[30:55] Andy Slavitt: You called earlier that people could speak up and let people know what’s important. We’re going to put a link to something that you and I wrote together in the show notes. I’ll put it in my Twitter feed and maybe Senator Sanders might as well. If you think this is a good idea, which I do, because I believe everything that you just said, then we can do that. The one thing that’s kind of interesting to me about this is we have this sort of — I don’t know if it’s a culture war, but this sort of cultural dialog about masks. I mean, what we choose to fight over, I think there’s a function of cable news or whatever. We could pick a fight over anything, I guess. But some of it may legitimately come from confusion, where early on some of the messages out of the White House and out of the CDC were that masks weren’t necessary. Then, of course, we learned about, as you said, the fact that the virus spreads through aerosols and a variety of other things causes scientists to move and say they are ready. Now, as I’ve said on this show hundreds of times, that’s what science does. It evolves. If it didn’t evolve, we would still be sending you leeches to put on your body.
[32:07] Bernie Sanders: But that’s especially true with a coronavirus. This is a new virus. And every single day, scientists around the world are learning more about it. They’re sharing information. Sometimes their conclusions are right. Sometimes they’re not. But we have got to take advantage of the very, very best science that we can. And I think there are very few leading authorities today who have studied this issue who do not believe that the utilization of masks will be helpful. And, in fact, would be a very important tool to help us cut back this virus.
[32:44] Andy Slavitt: I want to just compliment you for one other thing. People talk about this virus as it affects the average person. And to be candid, the average person is a white person, it’s a suburban person, it’s whoever we have in our mind. I looked at the bill language that you would put together and you talked about distribution into homeless shelters, into jails and prisons, into congregate care settings, into places where people don’t necessarily have reliable addresses. It makes me think that you’ve clearly reflected on what the numbers from this virus are telling us, that Hispanics are three times more likely to get infected and likewise to die from the virus. African-Americans are very close to that number. Low-income people that are “essential workers,” who are people who are out there to serve all of the people who just want to be served are in much less safe situations. And it feels like everything that Congress does needs to ask the question, OK, forget how this helps the average person. How is this going to help the people that are most at risk and most in need?
[33:48] Bernie Sanders: That’s right. Look, we’re almost getting back to the very first question you asked me, you know, what are we learning from this terrible pandemic? And what we’re learning, in my view, is that we have a healthcare system which is incredibly dysfunctional, so that if you’re poor or working-class, if you’re uninsured or underinsured, the likelihood is you’re going to have a lot of preexisting conditions. You’re going to have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, other illnesses which make you much more vulnerable for this terrible virus. Second of all, as you’ve just mentioned, the wealthy are not in grocery stores today working at counters, being exposed to people who walk in the door. They’re not driving busses. They are sheltered in their homes, working at home. But a lot of people don’t have that option. If you’re wealthy, you live in a nice house, and you got plenty of room in the house. Maybe you got a nice backyard. But if you are poor, maybe you’re living in Corona, Queens, or some low-income area, where five or six people or eight people are living in an overcrowded apartment, which is a breeding ground for the virus. Or maybe you’re in jail. And we don’t talk about the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of inmates and guards who have died because you can’t do social distancing in these jails. So I think this virus has exposed not only a dysfunctional healthcare system, but an economy which puts a significant number of our people every single day at risk. And that’s a lesson I hope we learn as we recover from where we are today.
[35:35] Andy Slavitt: I was talking a year or two ago to the foreign prime minister in Australia, and he said to me, we love your country, America. We think you guys are great. We think we have a lot in common. And when people ask me to compare ourselves to other countries for healthcare, I sometimes use Australia because we tend to think of ourselves in this sort of swashbuckling, macho kind of way. And he looked at me and he said, the one thing we will never understand is why you keep your citizens in a state of constant desperation. And I said, well, what did he mean by that? Because that phrase struck me. He said, 99 percent of Americans walk around never knowing that if they get sick, they need a prescription medicine, they have an illness. The worst thing happens to them whether they’re going to be able to take care of it for their family. And look, we’re not partisan, we’re not perfect here in Australia. A lot of things we don’t do. But the one thing people don’t ever have to do here, and I think this is true in most countries in the world, is worry about paying for healthcare if something happens. And so I want to ask you, as a result of the pandemic, which I think is many ways, if I were a religious person, I would say the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder Trump — God is testing us. What are we made of? What do we believe? How are you going to react to this kind of crisis? What kind of people are we? We’re all in the middle of a crisis now. But when you step up and look one to two years, some some period down the line, when we’re looking back on this, do you see what we’re going through — how do you see it helping to make us a better country?
[37:11] Bernie Sanders: Well, that’s a very good question. And I hope that it will. I mean, there’s so much suffering right now that I hope the American people say, all right, how did we get to where we are and where do we want to be in the future? And from a healthcare point of view, your point is well taken. And it’s not just Australia. I am talking to you 50 miles away from the Canadian border in Burlington, Vermont.
[37:37] Andy Slavitt: I’m not sure they let you in anymore, though.
[37:40] Bernie Sanders: Yeah, that’s right. But my point is, in Canada, for decades, they have got the equivalent of a Medicare for All system. And the media in this country doesn’t talk about it a whole lot for certain reasons. But in Canada, you go to any doctor you want. You don’t have to take out your wallet. You don’t take out your credit card. You’ve got all of the healthcare you need. You need major surgery. You’re in the hospital for three weeks. The only bill that you have is if you had to park your car in the parking garage. That’s it. And yet, at the end of the day, after providing quality care to all of their people, they are spending about half as much per capita as we are spending. I don’t want to get into a long debate. I think everybody knows my view on it. But I think to answer your question, the lesson being learned today I think most significantly, is that when you tie healthcare to employment, when your healthcare is nothing more than an employee benefit, what happens when you lose your job? Well, tens of millions of people are losing their jobs. Many of those people are losing their healthcare. Should healthcare simply be a function of your employment? Maybe you’ve got a good employer and you’ve got a good healthcare system. Maybe work in McDonald’s or Walmart, you have a bad healthcare plan or no healthcare at all. In my view, healthcare should be a human right guaranteed to every man, woman and child in this country, not an employee benefit. Function of healthcare is quality care for all, not huge profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies. We are winning that battle, but we are taking on very powerful forces in the healthcare industry who spend huge amounts of money in lobbying and campaign contributions. That’s the simple reality. But I have no doubt that especially after this pandemic, with so many people who had their health insurance from their employment and have lost it, we’re going to win this struggle sooner than later. And I’m going to do everything I can to make it sooner.
[39:47] Andy Slavitt: I’ll tell you, the one thing I learned in Washington is the one thing more powerful than lobbyists is an activated public. Lobbyists can’t hold a candle. Well, look, with your inspiration and hard work of many, may the day come when you walk into a doctor’s office and they say, do you have proof of coverage? And you say you’re looking at it. I exist. Time to take care of me. And I’m quite confident. I don’t know when, but I’m quite confident that day’s going to come in this country because I don’t think coming out of what we’ve lived through the public should settle for anything less. So thank you so much for being on.
[40:26] Bernie Sanders: Well, thank you very much. Pleasure to be with you. Take care.
[40:35] Andy Slavitt: Thanks to Bernie. Thanks for listening in. Hope you enjoyed the episode. I hope you got a chance to listen to our Toolkit episode on vaccines. We love your feedback. We’re going to keep doing these Toolkit episodes. We’ve got some other big guests coming up in the next couple weeks, including Larry Brilliant, the great scientist who has helped cure smallpox, and Ambassador Susan Rice and more.
[41:05] Andy Slavitt: Thanks for listening In the Bubble. Hope you rate us highly. We are a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease is our producer. Ivan Kuraev is our editor. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs executive produce the show and run our lives. My son Zach Slavitt is my cool co-host and onsite producer. Music is by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill. You can find out more about our show on social media @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at a @ASlavitt on Twitter or @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you liked what you heard today, please, please, please tell your friends to come listen, but from a distance. And for now, stay safe. Share some joy. And we will get through this together. And #StayHome.