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Where’s Bernie Now?

Den Bishop
Den Bishop
Senior Advisor

It may be difficult to remember how close Senator Bernie Sanders was to becoming President Bernie Sanders before the moderate Democrats reshuffled the election deck just prior to Super Tuesday in 2020s Presidential primary. The unifying issue for Sanders’ voters was “Medicare for All.” This singular issue looked like it could potentially propel him to the Presidency. Healthcare was the No. 1 voter issue.

Super Tuesday was March 3, 2020 (exactly two years ago today), but that day’s events now seem minor compared to the following Wednesday, March 11, 2020. That is the day the NBA cancelled games after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The pandemic had come to America.

Just over two months later, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. This event brought Black Lives Matter to the forefront of American conversations in Board rooms, court rooms, and living rooms.

It seems like a lot has changed in America since those long-since forgotten debates about Medicare for All. My last recollection of Senator Sanders was him sitting alone in his mittens at the Biden inauguration.

We don’t talk much about Medicare for All these days, and voters have dropped healthcare from 1st to 7th in their priorities according to a recent CNN poll. The economy, inflation, education, crime, voting rights, and taxes have all surpassed healthcare, and this poll was prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Candidate Biden’s promise was to strengthen Obamacare, and as President, he has accomplished this goal through a significant expansion of subsidies that was packaged in COVID-19 relief legislation. The expansion dramatically lowers the net cost for participants and expanded the number of people eligible for subsidies. He campaigned on the promise of a public plan option, but this idea is sitting quietly in the back of the closet and will likely not see the light of day any time soon.

Healthcare reached 19.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. That means approximately $1 of every $5 in our economy is healthcare. Higher prices for gas, homes, milk, bacon, and cars are in “in your face” items for consumers. Healthcare’s increasing scrape from your bank account is much more subtle.

As a result, politicians won’t be talking much about healthcare in these 2022 mid-term elections, and I am thankful for the respite. However, it seemed like the world was much simpler on Super Tuesday 2020

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