As of yesterday, it looked as if Bernie Sanders might have shaken off his labor union dispute problem after reaching a compromise agreement with the staff over hourly wages and the number of hours worked per week. (There was an NLRB complaint filed shortly after, but that will take a while to play out.)
Wages aren’t the entire picture when it comes to compensation, however. What about the other benefits the Vermont Senator is providing to the staff? For example, surely they are getting some sort of health insurance, right? Never fear. Sanders assures us that they have some of the best private health insurance available. This comes from his CNN interview with Poppy Harlow. (Mediaite)
Harlow asked Sanders about his campaign’s recent labor dispute with his unionized campaign workers, and as Sanders announced that the issue had been settled, he volunteered a boast that undermined Medicare for All in a couple of ways…
“And also, by the way, has probably the best healthcare plan that you can imagine,” Sanders continued, adding “I believe we cover 100% of the healthcare costs of our workers.”
That last part is not true, the deal the union negotiated pays 100 percent of the premiums, and only for the lowest-paid workers. For higher earners, it pays 85 percent.
Superficially, what Sanders is saying — that the private health insurance his staffers get is “the best healthcare plan that you can imagine” — means, by definition, that Medicare for All is not “the best healthcare plan that you can imagine.”
So the staff on Team Sanders is getting “the best healthcare plan that you can imagine.” And it’s a private plan. Nevermind the fact that he appears confused about the deal he helped strike in terms of how much of their premium costs are covered. Clearly, what they are getting now is considerably better than what they could expect from some sort of single-payer government plan, assuming the doctors they like even stay with it and don’t take only private insurance.
If nothing else, it seems as if Senator Sanders is getting a crash course in the difference between arguing about health insurance and healthcare policy in the abstract and having to deal with the realities of it as an employer. Small wonder, since Sanders has spent almost his entire adult life living off government paychecks and probably never had to worry too much about paying the workers of an organization the size of a small company. But when you’re running a national campaign, that’s one of the challenges you face.
Will this lesson sink in for Sanders? Considering the demands of his campaign workers, I rather doubt that they would be satisfied with losing their “best imaginable” health insurance from their employer and being tossed into a Medicare for All pool and seeing whatever doctors might still be willing to accept those rates. And guess what, Bernie. Most of the rest of us who have health plans through our employer won’t like it much either.