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Sanders Forces Clinton Into Strong Defense of Obamacare

2 minute read

Bernie Sanders forced Hillary Clinton into a full-throated defense of the Affordable Care Act during the Democratic debate Sunday night, as they sparred on health care and Democratic ideals.

Clinton was asked about Sanders’ “Medicare for all” health care proposal. She responded by saying she thinks it’s a smarter tactic to stick with the Affordable Care Act.

“Here’s what I believe,” the former Secretary of State said. “The Democratic Party in the United States worked since Harry Truman to get the Affordable Care Act passed. We finally have a path to universal health care. We’ve accomplished so much already, I do not want to see the Republicans repeal it, and I don’t want to see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it.”

Sanders also used Truman and the history of liberal values in the country in his response.

“What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man woman and child as a right,” the Vermont Senator said.

“Now, the truth is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman … they believed that health care should be available to all of our people. I’m on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act … I voted for it. But right now what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest price in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off. And here’s the important point: we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country.”

But Clinton didn’t give any ground on her view that the Affordable Care Act itself is the best realization of liberalism, rather than Sanders’ more radical idea.

“We have the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party and of our country.”

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com