2020 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

The most important & pressing healthcare policy issue wasn't mentioned once by any of the 25 people who spoke over four hours on two nights.

Here's the transcript of the entire healthcare segment of Night One of the Democratic Candidate Presidential Debate:

HOLT: Senator Warren, you signed on to Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan. It would put essentially everybody on Medicare and then eliminate private plans that offer similar coverage. Is that the plan or path that you would pursue as president?

WARREN: So, yes. I'm with Bernie on Medicare for all. And let me tell you why.

I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke. And one of the number-one reasons is the cost of health care, medical bills. And that's not just for people who don't have insurance. It's for people who have insurance.

Look at the business model of an insurance company. It's to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising copays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for all solves that problem.

And I understand. There are a lot of politicians who say, oh, it's just not possible, we just can't do it, have a lot of political reasons for this. What they're really telling you is they just won't fight for it. Well, health care is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights...

HOLT: Congressman O'Rourke, when you ran for Senate, you also praised a bill that would replace private insurance. This year, you're saying you're no longer sure. Can you explain why?

O'ROURKE: My goal is to ensure that every American is well enough to live to their full potential because they have health care. In Laredo, Texas, I met a young man, 27 years old, told me that he'd been to a doctor once in his life. And on that visit, he was told he had diabetes, he was told he had glaucoma, and he was told untreated -- because he doesn't have health care -- he'll be dead before the age of 40.

So getting to guaranteed, high-quality, universal health care as quickly and surely as possible has to be our goal. The ability to afford your prescriptions and go to a primary care provider, to be -- the ability to see a mental health care provider. In Texas, the single largest provider of mental health care services is the county jail system today.

And health care also has to mean that every woman can make her own decisions about her own body and has access to the care that makes that possible.

Our plan says that if you're uninsured, we enroll you in Medicare. If you're insufficiently insured, you can't afford your premiums, we enroll you in Medicare. But if you're a member of a union that negotiated for a health care plan that you like because it works for you and your family, you're able to keep it.

HOLT: Your time is up.

O'ROURKE: We preserve choice by making sure everybody has care.

HOLT: Your time is up, Congressman, but I do want to ask a follow-up on this. Just to be very clear -- I'll give you 10 seconds -- would you replace private insurance?

O'ROURKE: No. I think the choice is fundamental to our ability to get everybody cared for...

DE BLASIO: Wait, wait, wait. Congressman O'Rourke, Congressman O'Rourke, private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans when you talk about the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out of pocket expenses. It's not working. How can you defend a system that's not working?

O'ROURKE: That's right. So for those for whom it's not working, they can choose Medicare. For the...

DE BLASIO: Congressman...

O'ROURKE: ... who I listen to...

DE BLASIO: ... you've got to start by acknowledging the system is not working for people.

O'ROURKE: ... they're able to keep them.

DE BLASIO: Why are you defending private insurance to begin with?

DELANEY: ... 100 million Americans say they like their private health insurance, by the way. It should be noted that 100 million Americans -- I mean, I think we should be the party that keeps what's working and fixes what's broken.

I mean, doesn't that make sense? I mean, we should give everyone in this country health care as a basic human right for free, full stop. But we should also give them the option to buy private insurance. Why do we have to stand for taking away something from people?

And also it's bad policy. If you go to every hospital in this country and you ask them one question, which is how would it have been for you last year if every one of your bills were paid at the Medicare rate? Every single hospital administrator said they would close.

And the Medicare for all bill requires payments to stay at current Medicare rates. So to some extent, we're supporting a bill that will have every hospital closing. I mean, my dad was a union electrician, right?

I actually grew up in a working-class family. He loved the health care that the IBEW gave him. And I just always think about my dad in anything I would do from a policy perspective. He'd look at me and he'd say, good job, John, for getting health care for every American. But why are you taking my health care away?

HOLT: I’ve let this -- I’ve let this play out a little bit because I’m fascinated to hear the daylight between you. Congresswoman Gabbard, why don’t you weigh in here?

GABBARD: I think we're talking about this in the wrong way. You're talking about one bill over another bill. Really, what we're talking about is our objective, making sure that every single sick American in this country is able to get the health care that they need.

I believe Medicare for all is the way to do that. I also think that employers will recognize how much money will be saved by supporting a Medicare for all program, a program that will reduce the administrative costs, reduce the bureaucratic costs, and make sure that everyone gets that quality health care that they need. I also think that...

HOLT: Senator...

GABBARD: ... if you -- if you look at other countries in the world who have universal health care, every one of them has some form of a role of private insurance, so I think that's what we've got to look at, taking the best of these ideas, but making sure unequivocally that no sick American goes without getting the care that they need, regardless of how much or little money they have in their pocket.

HOLT: Congresswoman, Congresswoman, thanks. Let me turn to Senator Booker on this. Senator Booker, explain to me where you are. This is hugely important to people. So tell us where you are.

BOOKER: I absolutely will. First of all, we're talking about this as a health care issue, but in communities like mine, low-income communities, it's an education issue, because kids who don't have health care are not going to succeed in school. It is an issue for jobs and employment, because people who do not have good health care do not succeed at work. It's even a retirement issue, because in my community, African-Americans have a lower life expectancy because of poorer health care.

And so where I stand is very clear. Health care -- it's not just a human right, it should be an American right. And I believe the best way to get there is Medicare for all.

But I have an urgency about this. When I am president of the United States, I'm not going to wait. We have to do the things immediately that are going to provide better care. And on this debate, I'm sorry. There are too many people profiteering off of the pain of people in America, from pharmaceutical companies to insurers.

Literally, the overhead for insurance that they charge is 15 percent, while Medicare’s overhead is only at 2 percent. We can do this better. And every single day, I will be fighting to give people more access and more affordable costs until we get to my goal...

HOLT: Your time is up, Senator.

BOOKER: ... which is every American having health care.

HOLT: Time is up, Senator. I want to...I want to move back, if I can, to Congresswoman Gabbard...

WARREN: ... point, though, and that is that the insurance companies last year alone sucked $23 billion in profits out of the health care system, $23 billion. And that doesn't count the money that was paid to executives, the money that was spent lobbying Washington.

We have a giant industry that wants our health care system to stay the way it is, because it's not working for families, but it's sure as heck working for them. It’s time for us to make families come first.

INSLEE: It should not be an option in the United States of America for any insurance company to deny a woman coverage for their exercise of their right of choice.

And I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health in health insurance, and I'm the only candidate who has passed a public option. And I respect everybody's goals and plans here, but we do have one candidate that's actually advanced the ball. And we've got to have access for everyone. I've done it as a public option.

HOLT: Your time...Senator Klobuchar, I want to get you...

(UNKNOWN): That's a false claim.

HOLT: I am fascinated by this. Senator -- Senator Klobuchar?

KLOBUCHAR: I just want to say, there's three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose. I'll start with that.

And then I just want to make very clear, I think we share the goal of universal health care. And the idea I put out there, the public option, which the governor was just talking about, this idea is that you use Medicare or Medicaid without any insurance companies involved, you can do it either way. And the estimates are 13 million people would see a reduction in their premiums, 12 more million people would get covered.

So I think it is a beginning and the way you start and the way you move to universal health care.

HOLT: Secretary Castro, this one is for you. All of you on stage support a woman's right to an abortion. You all support some version of a government health care option. Would your plan cover abortion, Mr. Secretary?

CASTRO: Yes, it would. I don't believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.

And, you know, what that means is that just because a woman -- or let's also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn't mean they shouldn't have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.

More than that, everybody in this crowd and watching at home knows that in our country today, a person's right to choose is under assault in places like Missouri, in Alabama, in Georgia. I would appoint judges to the federal bench that understand the precedent of Roe v. Wade and will respect it...and in addition to that, make sure that we fight hard as we transition our health care system to one where everybody can get and exercise that right.

HOLT: Senator Warren, would you put limits on -- any limits on abortion?

WARREN: I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and that includes birth control, it includes abortion, it includes everything for a woman. And I want to add on that. It's not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us. Forty-seven years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided, and we've all looked to the courts all that time, as state after state has undermined Roe, has put in exceptions, has come right up to the edge of taking away protections...

HOLT: Your time is up, Senator.

WARREN: We now have an America where most people support Roe v. Wade. We need to make that a federal law.

HOLT: Senator, thank you. Jose?

DIAZ-BALART: Lester, thank you. Senator Booker, I want to kind of come back on a discussion we were having about health and the opioid crisis. You represent a state where 14 of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies are based. Should pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs be held criminally liable for what they do?

BOOKER: They should absolutely be held criminally liable, because they are liable and responsible. This is one of the reasons why well before I was running for president I said I would not take contributions from pharma companies, not take contributions from corporate PACs, or pharma executives, because they are part of this problem.

And this opioid addiction in our country, we in cities like mine have been seeing how we’ve tried to arrest our way out of addiction for too long. It is time that we have a national urgency to deal with this problem and make the solutions that are working to actually be the law of our land and make the pharmaceutical companies that are responsible help to pay for that.

DIAZ-BALART: Congressman O'Rourke, how would you deal with it?

O’ROURKE: Tonight in this country, you have 2.3 million of our fellow Americans behind bars. It’s the largest prison population on the face of the planet. Many are there for nonviolent drug crimes, including possession of marijuana, at a time that more than half the states have legalized it or decriminalized it.

And yet despite what Purdue Pharma has done, their connection to the opioid crisis and the overdose deaths that we're seeing throughout this country, they've been able to act with complete impunity and pay no consequences, not a single night in jail.

Unless there's accountability and justice, this crisis will continue. In my administration, we will hold them to account. We will make sure that they pay a price, and we will help those who've been victims of this malfeasance in this country get them treatment and long-term care.

UPDATE: Here's all the healthcare references from the transcript of Night Two:

(There were a few references in the opening segment, which wasn't really supposed to be about healthcare specifically):

NBC ANCHOR SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: So, with that business taken care of, let’s get to it. And we’re going to start today with Senator Sanders. Good evening to you.

You've called for big, new government benefits, like universal health care and free college. In a recent interview, you said you suspected that Americans would be, quote, “delighted” to pay more taxes for things like that. My question to you is, will taxes go up for the middle class in a Sanders administration? And if so, how do you sell that to voters?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT.): Well, you’re quite right. We have a new vision for America. And at a time when we have three people in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of America, while 500,000 people are sleeping out on the streets today, we think it is time for change, real change. And by that, I mean that health care in my view is a human right. And we have got to pass a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. Under that system, by the way, vast majority of the people in this country will be paying significantly less for health care than they are right now.

I believe that education is the future for this country. And that is why I believe that we must make public colleges and universities tuition-free and eliminate student debt. And we do that by placing a tax on Wall Street. Every proposal that I have brought forth is fully paid for.

GUTHRIE: Senator Sanders, I’ll give you 10 seconds just to ask the — answer the very direct question. Will you raise taxes for the middle class in a Sanders administration?

SANDERS: People who have health care under Medicare-for-all will have no premiums, no deductibles, no co-payments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.

...JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that the bottom line is, if we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists.

And if you look at the Green New Deal, which I admire the sense of urgency and how important it is to do climate change — I'm a scientist — but we can't promise every American a government job. If we want to get universal health care coverage, I believe that health care is a right and not a privilege, but you can't expect to eliminate private insurance for 180 million people, many of whom don't want to give it up.

...GUTHRIE: Thank you. I want to be fair to all the candidates. Thank you. Senator Bennet, you have said, quote, “It’s possible to write policy proposals that have no basis in reality. You might as well call them candy. Were you referring to any candidate or proposal in particular when you said that?

...BENNET: I appreciate it. Well, look, first of all, I agree completely with Bernie about what the fundamental challenge we're facing as a country is, 40 years of no economic growth for 90 percent of the American people; 160,000 families in the top .1 percent have the same wealth as the bottom 90 percent; and we've got the worst income inequality that we've had in 100 years.

Where I disagree is on his solution of Medicare-for-all. You know, I — I have proposed getting to universal health care, which we need to do. It is a right. Health care is a right. We need to get to universal health care. I believe the way to do that is by finishing the work we started with Obamacare and creating a public option that every family and every person in America can make a choice for their family about whether they want a public option, which for them would be like having Medicare-for-all, or whether they want to keep their private insurance.

...Bernie — if I could just finish, Bernie mentioned that — the taxes that we would have to pay. Because of those taxes, Vermont rejected Medicare-for-all.

...GILLIBRAND: In Bernie's bill — in Bernie's bill, I wrote...I wrote the part in Senator Sanders' bill — I wrote the part in Senator Sanders' bill that is the transition, which merges what the two senators said. Because the truth is, if you have a buy-in, over a four or five-year period, you move us to single-payer more quickly.

(the actual healthcare segment came later on):

HOLT: Yes, you have all — you've all expressed an interest in talking about health care. So let's talk about health care....And this is going to be a show of hands question. We asked a question about health care last night that spurred a lot of discussion, as you know. We're going to do it again now. Many people watching at home have health insurance through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favorite of a government-run plan? All right. Kristin Gillibrand, Senator Gillibrand?

...GILLIBRAND: So this is a very important issue. So the plan that Senator Sanders and I and others support, Medicare-for-all, is how you get to single payer. But it has a buy-in transition period, which is really important. In 2005, when I ran for Congress in a 2-to-1 Republican district, I actually ran on Medicare-for-all, and I won that 2-to-1 Republican district twice. And the way I formulated it was simple. Anyone who doesn't have access to insurance they like, they could buy it at a percentage of income they could afford.

So that's what we put in to the transition period for our Medicare-for-all plan. I believe we need to get to universal health care as a right and not a privilege to single payer. The quickest way you get there is you create competition with the insurers. God bless the insurers, if they want to compete, they can certainly try, but they've never put people over their profits, and I doubt they ever will.

So what will happen is people will choose Medicare, you will transition, we will get to Medicare-for-all, and then your step to single-payer is so short, I would make it an earned benefit, just like Social Security, so that you buy in your whole life, it is always there for you, and it's permanent and it's universal.

HOLT: Senator, your time is up. I want to put that same question to Mayor Buttigieg.

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, we've talked — look, everybody who says Medicare-for-all, every person in politics who allows that phrase to escape their lips has a responsibility to explain how you're actually supposed to get from here to there.

Now, here's how I would do it. It's very similar. I would call it Medicare-for-all who want it. You take something like Medicare, a flavor of that, you make it available on the exchanges, people can buy in. And then if people like us are right, that that will be not only a more inclusive plan, but a more efficient plan than any of the corporate answers out there, then it will be a very natural glide path to the single-payer environment.

But let's remember, even in countries that have outright socialized medicine, like England, even there, there's still a private sector. That's fine. It's just that for our primary care, we can't be relying on the tender mercies of the corporate system.

This one is very personal for me. I started out this year dealing with the terminal illness of my father. I make decisions for a living, and nothing could have prepared me for the kind of decisions our family faced.

But the thing we had going for us was that we never had to make those decisions based on whether it was going to bankrupt our family, because of Medicare. And I want every family to have that same freedom to do what is medically right, not live in financial fear.

HOLT: Your time is complete. Vice President Biden, I want to put the question to you. You were an architect — one of the architects of Obamacare. So where do we go from here?

BIDEN: Well, look, this is very personal to me. When my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, my two boys were very, very badly injured. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I'd not had adequate health care available to me.

And then, when my son came home from Iraq after a year, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he was given months to live. I can't fathom what would have happened if, in fact, they said, by the way, the last six months of your life, you're on your own. We're cutting off. You've used up your time.

The fact of the matter is that the quickest, fastest way to do it is build on Obamacare, to build on what we did.

And, secondly — secondly, to make sure that everyone does have an option. Everyone, whether they have private insurance or employer insurance and no insurance, they, in fact, can buy in, in the exchange to a Medicare-like plan. And the way to do that — we can do it quickly.

Look, urgency matters. There's people right now facing what I faced, and what we faced, without any of the help I had. We must move now. I'm against any Democrat who opposes...and takes down Obamacare and any Republican who wants to get rid of Obamacare.

HOLT: Let me turn to Senator Sanders. Senator Sanders, you have basically — you basically want to scrap the private health insurance system as we know it and replace it with a government-run plan. None of the states that have tried something like that, California, Vermont, New York has struggled with it, have been successful. If politicians can’t make it in those states, how would you implement it on a national level? How does this work?

SANDERS: Lester, I find it hard to believe that every other major country on Earth, including my neighbor 50 miles north of me, Canada, somehow has figured out a way to provide health care to every man, woman, and child, and in most cases, they’re spending 50 percent per capita what we are spending.

Let's be clear. Let us be very clear. The function of health care today from the insurance and drug company perspective is not to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way. The function of the health care system today is to make billions in profits for the insurance companies.

And last year, if you can believe it, while we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs — and I will lower prescription drugs prices in half in this country — top 10 companies made $69 billion in profit. They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars lying to the American people, telling us why we cannot have a Medicare-for-all single-payer program.

HOLT: Senator, Senator, I just have — I just have to follow up there. How do you implement it on a national level?...Given the fact that it’s not succeeded and other states have tried?

SANDERS: I will tell you how we'll do it. We'll do it the way real change has always taken place, whether it was the labor movement, the civil rights movement, or the women's movement. We will have Medicare-for-all when tens of millions of people are prepared to stand up and tell the insurance companies and the drug companies that their day is gone, that health care is a human right, not something to make huge profits off of.

HOLT: Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm addressing the question to Ms. Williamson. We've been talking a lot about access to health insurance. But for many Americans, their most pressing concern is the high cost of health care. How would you lower the cost of prescription drugs?

WILLIAMSON: Well, first of all, the government should never have made the deal with big pharma that they couldn't negotiate. That was just part of the regular corruption by which multinational corporations have their way with us.

You know, I want to say that while I agree with — and I’m with Senator Bennet and others, but I agree with almost everything here — I’ll tell you one thing, it’s really nice if we’ve got all these plans, but if you think we’re going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming, because he didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying make America great again.

We’ve got to get deeper than just these superficial fixes, as important as they are. Even if we’re just talking about the superficial fixes, ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have a health care system in the United States. We have a sickness care system in the United States. We just wait until somebody gets sick, and then we talk about who’s going pay for the treatment and how they’re going to be treated.

What we need to talk about is why so many Americans have unnecessary chronic illnesses, so many more compared to other countries. And that gets back into not just the health — the big pharma, not just health insurance companies, it has to do with chemical policies, it has to do with environmental policies...It has to do with food policies. It has to do with drug policies. It has to do with environment policies.

HOLT: Senator Bennet, a question for you. You want to keep the system that we have in place with Obamacare and build on it. You mentioned that a moment ago. Is that enough to get us to universal coverage?

BENNET: I believe that will get us the quickest way there. And I thought the vice president was very moving about this and Mayor Pete, as well.

I had prostate cancer recently, as you may know, and it's why I was a little late getting in the race. The same week, my kid had her appendectomy. And I feel very strongly that families ought to be able to have this choice. I think that's what the American people want.

I believe it will get us there quickly. There are millions of people in America that do not have health insurance today because they can't. They're too wealthy. Wealthy? They make too much money to be on Medicaid. They can't afford health insurance.

When Senator Sanders says that Canada is single payer, there are 35 million people in Canada. There are 330 million people in the United States, easily the number of people on a public option that — it could easily be 35 million. And for them, it would be Medicare-for-all, as Mayor Buttigieg says. But for others that want to keep it, they should be able to keep it. And I think that will be the fastest way to get where we need to go.

...Also, I will say — Bernie is a very honest person. He has said over and over again, unlike others that have supported this legislation, over and over again, that this will ban, make illegal all insurance except cosmetic, except insurance for — I guess that's for plastic surgery. Everything else is banned under the Medicare-for-all proposal . ..

...HARRIS: I'd like to add a point here.

HOLT: But I want — but obviously, Senator Sanders, you get a response.

HARRIS: I'd like to add a point here.

HOLT: Senator Sanders, just respond to that.

SANDERS: Just very briefly, you know, Mike, Medicare is the most popular . ..

BENNET: I agree.

SANDERS: . . . health insurance program in the country. People don't like their private insurance companies. They like their doctors and hospitals. Under our plan people go to go to any doctor they want, any hospital they want. We will substantially lower the cost of health care in this country because we'll stop the greed of the insurance companies.

HARRIS: . . . on this issue we have to think about how this affects real people. And the reality of how this affects real people is captured in a story that many of us heard and I will paraphrase.

There is, any night in America, a parent who has seen that their child has a temperature that is out of control, calls 911, what should I do? And they say, take the child to the Emergency Room. And so they get in their car and they drive and they are sitting in the parking lot outside of the Emergency Room looking at those sliding glass doors while they have the hand on the forehead of their child, knowing that if they walk through those sliding glass doors, even though they have insurance, they will be out a 5,000 deductible, $5,000 deductible when they walk through those doors.

That's what insurance companies are doing in America today.

SWALWELL: I'm one of those parents. I was just in the emergency room. And I'm telling you,,,we fight health insurance companies every single week. We stand in line and pay expensive prescription drugs. We have to have a health care guarantee. If you are sick, you're seen. And in America, you never go broke because of it.

GUTHRIE: okay. A lot of you have been talking tonight about these government health care plans that you have proposed in one form or another. This is a show of hands question, and hold them up for a moment so people can see. Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants. Okay. Let me start with you, Mayor Buttigieg, why? Mayor Buttigieg, why?

BUTTIGIEG: Because our country is healthier when everybody is healthier. And, remember, we are talking about something people are given a chance to buy into, in the same way that there are undocumented immigrants in my community who pay, they pay sales taxes, they pay property taxes, directly or indirectly.

This is not about a handout. This is an insurance program. And we do ourselves no favors by having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access health care. But, of course, the real problem is we shouldn't have 11 million undocumented people with no pathway to citizenship. It makes no sense. And the American people...agree on what to do. This is a crazy thing. If leadership consists of forming a consensus around a divisive issue, this White House has divided us around a consensus issue. The American people want a pathway to citizenship, they want protections for "dreamers". We need to clean up the lawful immigration system, like how my father immigrated to this country.

And as part of a compromise, we can do whatever common-sense measures are needed at the border, but Washington can’t deliver on something the American people want. What does that tell you about the system we are living in? It tells you it needs profound structural reform.

GUTHRIE: Mayor, thank you. Vice President Biden, I believe you said that your health care plan would not cover undocumented immigrants. Could you explain your position?...I believe at the show of hands you did not raise your hand. Did you raise your hand?

BIDEN: No, I did.

GUTHRIE: Okay. Sorry, sorry. So you said that they would be covered under your plan, which is different than Obamacare.

BIDEN: Yes. But here's the thing . ..

GUTHRIE: Can you explain that change?

BIDEN: Yes. You cannot let, as the mayor said, you cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered. You can't do that. It's just going to be taken care of, period. You have to. It's the humane thing to do.

But here's the deal, the deal is that he's right about three things. Number one, they in fact contribute to the well-being of the country but they also, for example, they've increased the life span of Social Security because they have a job, they're paying a Social Security tax. That's what they're doing. It has increased the life span.

They would do the same thing in terms of reducing the overall cost of health care by them being able to be treated and not wait until they are in extremis.

The other thing is, folks, look, we can deal with these insurance companies. We can deal with the insurance companies by, number one, putting insurance executives in jail for their misleading advertising, what they're doing on opioids, what they're doing paying doctors to prescribe.

We could be doing this by making sure everyone who is on Medicare that the government should be able to negotiate the price for whatever the drug costs are. We can do this by making sure that we're in a position that we in fact allow people. Time's up?

Notice anything missing? Go ahead and run a "Control-F" search of the text for "Texas lawsuit" or "5th Circuit Court of Appeals". You won't find it on either night.

Hell, the first evening's debate didn't even have any mention of the ACA at all. Seriously..."ACA", "Affordable Care Act" and "Obamacare" weren't uttered once on Wednesday evening by anyone. It was mentioned a few times by Sen. Bennet and of course by Joe Biden on Thursday evening...but the lawsuit threatening to repeal the entire ACA itself was never even hinted at.

I don't care if you support "Medicare for All", "Medicare for America", "Choose Medicare", "Medicare X", a "Public Option" or any other healthcare overhaul/expansion bill...the most immediate, urgent threat to the American healthcare system at this moment in time is the Texas vs. Azar (aka Texas vs. U.S., aka #TexasFoldEm) lawsuit, which is scheduled to be heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 9th.

I know the only healthcare-specific questions were about Medicare for All/Universal Coverage, Abortion and the Opioid Crisis.

I know there was very limited time to go off-topic with so many candidates on stage.

Even so, someone should have at least briefly mentioned the lawsuit and the threat...whether one of the moderators or one of the candidates. Senator Warren did a fantastic job of working #TexasFoldEm into her Town Hall response back in March, but last night none of the five moderators or any of the twenty candidates on stage gave it even a passing mention. Stunning.