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Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders on the Debate Stage for the First Time

On Feb. 7, CNN reminded of us the road not taken, with a debate between Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders on Obamacare. The senators debated the pros and cons of Obamacare, as well the Republican’s alternative replacement.

Overall, I think too much time was given to questions about the problems of Obamacare, with Sanders having to defend it. Although the moderators did have a few questions for Cruz on the GOP alternative, I honestly think that for every Obamacare problem the moderators posed Sanders, they should have turned to Cruz and asked “How does the GOP plan fix this?”

It would have forced Cruz to give detailed specifics, and perhaps we could have gotten more out of the debate.

Sanders pointed out the benefits of Obamacare and pushed his idea of a single-payer program. He stated that while the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a step forward, improvements should be made. He stayed true to his campaign message: healthcare as a right, and Medicare for all. He also pointed out that guaranteeing health care as a right will increase incomes, in the form of lower premiums and deductibles.

Many people, however, probably didn’t like his response to a hair salon owner, who couldn’t afford to provide health insurance to her employees. He said he believes companies with more than fifty employees should provide health insurance. Now, look, I’m not saying this woman is evil, or anything, for not providing insurance. I mean, she couldn’t even afford insurance for herself. But while Sanders’ words may have sounded harsh, employee-provided health insurance is an incredibly popular option, so it makes sense that after a certain number of employees, companies should be required to provide it.

Cruz, on the other hand, reiterated his point of getting government out of healthcare, and leaving individuals to make decisions about it. One of his problems with Obamacare is how expensive the premiums are. Though, I have to wonder, how would getting rid of the subsidies that Obamacare provides make them cheaper?

On the GOP’s replacement plan, Cruz said that it would protect people with preexisting conditions from being denied healthcare, or those who get sick from having costs go up. But otherwise, I found that I did not get many details on the GOP plan from Cruz.

Also, one thing I want to point out is what Cruz repeated several times: that 6 million people were left without plans when Obamacare was implemented. In fact, Politifact points out that “2.6 million received notices that their health care insurance policies were being canceled, but fewer than 1 million ended up with no coverage at all.” Though one million people without coverage isn’t good either, it’s a pretty big difference.

Surprisingly enough, the two of them actually managed to find some common ground at some points. Both senators agreed that the pharmaceutical industry is too powerful, and people should be allowed to purchase health care from any state. Granted, it’s not a lot, but it is start. And with two parties that can’t seem to agree on anything, it’s a small morsel of hope that maybe, some day, there might be some sort of compromise. Or is that too optimistic?

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Irina Kovari

U Mass Amherst

I'm a senior marketing major at UMass, with a passion for writing and equal rights. I'm on MASSPIRG at UMass, drink too much caffeine, and eat too much chocolate.
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