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Bernie Sanders gets support for 'Medicare for All' proposal from Fox News audience

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., held a town hall on Monday on Fox News and drew unexpected support from the audience for his plan to provide government-run health insurance to all Americans.

“I want to ask the audience a question, if you could raise your hand here,” moderator Bret Baier said, addressing the crowd assembled in Bethlehem, Pa., to see Sanders speak. “A show of hands of how many people get their insurance from work, private insurance right now.”

Bernie Sanders speaks during a Fox News town hall on April 15. (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)

Most in the audience raised a hand.

“Now of those,” Baier continued, “how many are willing to transition to what the senator says, a government-run system?”

Approximately the same number of people, many of them cheering loudly, raised a hand again, apparently surprising Baier, who added, “There’s 180 million people on private insurance, and they would be lost, right?”

“Fair question,” Sanders responded. “I know it’s what the right wing throws out, so let me answer it, all right? Millions of people every single year lose their health insurance, you know why? They get fired or they quit and they go to another employer. I was a mayor for eight years and you know what I did, what probably every mayor in America does, is you look around for the best insurance program, the most cost-effective insurance. You change insurance. Every year, millions of workers wake up in the morning and their employer has changed the insurance that they have. Maybe they liked the doctors, some people are nodding their heads, OK. So this is not new, every year. Now what we’re talking about actually is stability. That when you have a ‘Medicare for All’ it is there now and will be there in the future.”

The audience again cheered what Sanders had proposed, and the Vermont senator’s campaign wasted little time in posting the exchange to social media.

President Trump has made dismantling the Affordable Care Act a top priority of his first two years in office, promising that “the Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care.” No formal health care plan from the administration has yet been written, and members of the president’s party have urged him to back off his promises until after the 2020 election.

Some progressives criticized Sanders for appearing on Fox News, which the candidate himself has described as “right-wing propaganda” intended to benefit Trump.

But in an interview with HuffPost, Sanders explained his rationale for appearing on the network.

“When I go on Fox, what I will say is, ‘Look, many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you,’” Sanders said. “‘He told you he was gonna provide health care for everybody. Yet his policies are to throw 30 million people off of the health insurance they have.’”

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