On Sunday March 15th, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden took the debate stage. However, at the center stage, was the COVID — 19 virus. The podiums for the former Vice-President and the senator, were placed six feet apart and the debate occurred without an audience presence. The candidates even greeted each other with an elbow tap instead of a handshake. A huge chunk of the debate was spent discussing a response to the COVID — 19 virus and healthcare in general.
Joe Biden phrased the situation as a ‘War’ that needs to be addressed, stating:
What I would do is what we did in our administration. I would call a meeting in The Situation Room of all the experts in America dealing with this crisis. I would sit them down, and I would do exactly what we did then. What is it that we need? Listen to the experts. What do we need? With all due respect to Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy. It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all. We can take care of that right now by making sure that no one has to pay for treatment, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for whatever drugs are needed, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for hospitalization because of the crisis, period.
Sanders on the other hand, approached the COVID — 19 virus through a repeated case for government guaranteed free healthcare for all:
Jake, let’s be honest and understand that this coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current healthcare system. Now, we’re spending twice as much per person on healthcare as the people of any other country. How in God’s name does it happen that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or underinsured and there are people who are watching this program tonight, and say, “I’m not feeling well. Should I go to the doctor? But I can’t afford to go to the doctor. What happens if I am sick? It’s going to cost thousands of dollars for treatment. Who’s going to feed my kids?” We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people.
For Sanders the debate was supposed to an opportunity to rally his supports and to reach new voters through his message. It was also an opportunity for him…