Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-avowed socialist, hasn’t always been too keen on single-payer health care.
On Wednesday, Sanders introduced his single-payer, “Medicare for All” bill. He pointed to the current Medicare system, which offers care to Americans 65 years and older, as proof of the success of universal health care programs.
“[G]uaranteeing comprehensive health benefits to Americans over 65 has proved to be enormously successful, cost-effective and popular,” he said.
But he was singing quite a different tune 30 years ago, according to a clip unearthed by the NTK Network. In 1987, Sanders said Medicaid for all “would bankrupt the nation.”
Sanders, who was at the time mayor of Burlington, Vermont, made the comment during an interview on his local show, “Bernie Speaks with the Community,” with physician Milton Terris.
Sanders asked Terris how the U.S. could affordably implement a single-payer health care system:
“You want to guarantee that all people have access to health care, as you do in Canada. But I think what we understand is that, unless we change the funding system and the control mechanism in this country to do that — for example, if we expanded Medicaid [to] everybody, give everybody a Medicaid card — we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation.”
Sanders has apparently had some sort of progressive awakening since his days in Burlington.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who battled Sanders for her party’s nomination in 2016, criticized Sanders’s single-payer proposals in an interview this week with Vox’s Ezra Klein.
“As you might remember during the campaign, [Sanders] introduced a single-payer bill every year he was in Congress,” she said. “And when somebody finally read it, he couldn’t explain it and couldn’t really tell people how much it was going to cost.”
Though Clinton said she supports universal health care, she noted it’s “difficult” to enact.
Watch the retro clip of Sanders below.