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Biden says coronavirus hasn’t changed his mind on single-payer

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Joe Biden in an interview on MSNBC.

Source: MSNBC

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that he was not reconsidering his opposition to single-payer health care despite the strain that the coronavirus pandemic has put on the existing health-care system. 

“Single-payer will not solve that at all,” Biden said during an interview on MSNBC. 

Biden is running against Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden is ahead in delegates, 1,181 to 871, out of 1,991 needed to win, according to an NBC News tracker

Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” proposal to overhaul the health-care system and implement a single-payer, government-run system was a focus of the race even before the public health crisis erupted in the U.S. and essentially knocked both men off the campaign trail.

Biden has opposed the proposal, citing its costs, and suggested earlier in March that as president he might veto it, though his campaign later seemed to walk back the comments. 

“The thing that is needed is, for example, we have a whole number of hospitals that are being stretched, including rural hospitals, they are going to need more financing. That doesn’t come from a single-payer system,” Biden said.

“That comes from the federal government stepping up and dealing with concerns that they have,” Biden said. “The reimbursement they are going to get, how they’re going to be able to move forward.”

Sanders has said that the unfolding crisis has put a spotlight on the weaknesses of the current system.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to kick millions of Americans off their health insurance as the disease’s economic toll sweeps through the nation.

In the U.S., health insurance is often tied to employment, and nearly 67 million Americans are working in jobs at high risk of layoffs, according to a Federal Reserve estimate. Weekly job losses surpassed 3 million last week, nearly five times the record from the 2008 recession. 

The fight over health care and coronavirus dominated the last Democratic debate, held earlier in March. Sanders said that the U.S. lacked a “system that is prepared to provide health care to all people,” a weakness that the virus revealed and exploited. 

Biden countered that Italy, among the hardest-hit nations, does have single-payer and is still struggling. 

The former vice president has called for testing and treatment, as well as any potential vaccine, for coronavirus to be free. 

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