President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Health and Human Services Secretary would not commit to the idea that health care is a basic human right for Americans.
The HHS nominee, Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a medical doctor who has been suspected of insider trading with medical companies, got into a testy exchange with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont about the country's health care situation during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“Do you believe that health care is a right of all Americans, whether they are rich or poor?” asked Sanders, according to Quartz. “Should people, because they are Americans, be able to go to the doctor when they need to?”
Price said that America is a “compassionate society,” but was quickly interrupted by Sanders.
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“No, we are not a compassionate society,” Sanders said, according to The Nation. “In terms of our relationship to poor and working people, our record is worse than virtually any other country on Earth. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any other major country on Earth. And half of our senior older workers have nothing set aside for retirement. So I don’t think, compared to other countries, we are particularly compassionate.”
Sanders went on to pose a question: “In Canada, in other countries, all people have the right to health care. Do you believe we should move in that direction?
“If you want to talk about other countries’ health-care systems, there are consequences to the decisions that they’ve made, just as there are consequences to the decisions that we’ve made,” Price answered. “I look forward to working with you to make sure that every single American has access to the highest-quality care and coverage that is possible.”
Sanders then explained that “access to” is not the same as a guarantee.
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“I have access to buying a $10 million home,” Sanders said. “I don’t have the money to do that.”