PC: CNN Press Room
PC: CNN Press Room

Last night, CNN hosted a town hall style debate on the future of healthcare in this country. The debate was between U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Both Senators had been frontrunners in the 2016 Presidential Race, and they have opinions of government that fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Going into this debate, it was clearly noted that Cruz is an advocate of free markets and limited government, while Sanders is an advocate of socialism, particularly socialized medicine in this case. Knowing their passionate, yet completely opposite stances on this issue, the hype for this debate was great.

You can watch the full debate below (starts at about 7:25).

Although there is much I could say about this debate, I’ve boiled it down into a few takeaways.

Refreshing format

Throughout the 2016 Presidential Elections, the word ‘debate’ brought about groans; watching them was drudgery. This town hall style debate was absolutely refreshing! The moderates were fairly unbiased, the debaters stayed on topic, and debated ideas and policies, keeping away from personal insults (although, there were a couple of sarcastic quips thrown in).

Both focused on the hurt being done to Americans

Although they clearly have different positions, both had a couple of points in common that they emphasized. The first is that the current situation of healthcare is harmful to Americans. Sanders’ position was that the government isn’t doing ENOUGH, and that without expanding socialized medicine, even more Americans will be harmed. Sanders stated, “We’re moving into an era where millions of Americans will not be able to get health care, and who knows how many of them will die.”

On the other hand, Cruz firmly disagreed with Sanders, citing big government as the true source of harmful healthcare situations for Americans. Reading some statistics about socialized medicine and its inhumane outcomes in other countries, Cruz stated, “I don’t think the government has any business telling you that you’re not entitled to receive health care.” He went on to say, “Lower prices, lower premiums, lower deductibles-empower you and put you back in charge of your health care.”

Both opposed rationing, while citing opposite examples to define what rationing is

The second main point that Cruz and Sanders agreed on was that rationing is a problem. Cruz talked about the problem with socialized medicine rationing, the government deciding who gets health care and who doesn’t. Cruz stated, “Every country where it’s been applied [Socialized medicine] , you’ve seen rationing, you’ve seen government deciding, especially with seniors.”

Sanders took a different approach, stating that the real rationing problem was with the rich having more health care access: “The way we do rationing is that when you’re rich, you have the best healthcare in the world…but if you’re working class, you’re going to be having a hard time facing the outrageous cost of healthcare.”

It is crucial to point out that these two politicians agree on several points. Equally crucial to point out is the fact that they have tremendously different positions on how to solve the problems they agree on or reach the point they’d like to see in healthcare.

Sanders firmly for Medicare expansion, Cruz firmly against

Although they had points of similar stances, the two senators still firmly disagreed on several points. First of all, Sanders advocated firmly for the expansion of Medicare while Cruz remained firmly against. A comment in support of expansion, Sanders stated, “There should be a Medicare type of public option available in all states in this country.” He even made the statement that we should be “negotiating drug prices through Medicare.”

Throughout the night, Cruz cited many facts on the ineffectiveness of Medicaid, including the fact that 54% of the doctors in this country will not take Medicaid. Over and over he pointed out that, “people on welfare have markedly worse health outcomes than those on private insurance.” His basic point was that people should have the right to choose their own healthcare: “I believe that we should have a system that as many people as possible are able to be on the private insurance of their choice…Bernie likes to talk about healthcare for all, you know what he means? Medicare for all, rationed care.”

Cruz wants corrupt government’s power decreased, Sanders wants it increased

A second clear point of contention between the two was the amount of power government should have in the healthcare field. Sander’s socialist views and Cruz’s advocacy for limited government shone clearly in this discussion. One of Sanders’ first points was to point to the socialized medicine systems in Canada and the UK: “If you were in Canada, you’d get the healthcare that you’d need.”

Cruz quickly disputed that claim: “The governor of one of the Canadian provinces came to the US for heart surgery-he was a GOVERNOR.” Cruz went on to discuss the problems of government regulation, and both he and Sanders agreed that the system was too complex and too much time was being spent on paperwork. However, differences shone was again when Cruz remarked, “If the problem is that government is corrupt, why would you want MORE power in Washington?” Regulation was also discussed, with Cruz stating that the government needed to get out of the healthcare game, and Sanders telling the audience that Obamacare was a step in the right direction, but wasn’t going nearly far enough.

Cruz won the discussion on healthcare as a human right

Both senators brought their cases with passion, weight, and reason. After watching and weighing the arguments, I would say that Ted Cruz, frankly, had more facts, data, and real life examples to back his argument. Even as he did a better job of backing his opinion with data, there was one point he clearly, hands down, won on: Healthcare as a human right.

When Sanders commented, “Healthcare is a human right,” Cruz was quick to attack that idea. “Access to healthcare is a right, being able to choose your doctor is a right. If you believe healthcare is a right, why on earth did you support Obamacare which caused 6 million people to lose health insurance?” Sanders didn’t have much of an answer to this question, replying only that access to healthcare doesn’t matter if you can’t afford said care.

This debate was refreshing, intriguing, and utterly worth watching. It was encouraging to see such open dialogue on the state of a crucial issue within this country, and I hope to see more debates like this to come.

 (Disclaimer: The author was heavily involved in the 2016 Cruz for President campaign.)

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