Former presidential candidates senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders faced off Tuesday night over the issue of repealing the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, as the two fell on opposite ends of the political spectrum, Sanders being a social democrat and Cruz being a right-wing conservative who champions privatization.
"(The years) 2010, 2014, 2016, I believe were a mandate from the voters. We're tired of the premiums going up. We're tired of deductibles going up," Cruz said at a CNN town hall debate with Bernie Sanders over the future of Obamacare. "Should Congress move swiftly to repeal Obamacare? Absolutely."
The town hall debate touched on issues surrounding the dismantling of the health care program set up by former President Barack Obama and covers more than 20 million U.S. citizens who can’t afford private insurance.
"If you are one of 20 million Americans who finally has received health insurance, forget about it — you're gone," Sanders warned about repealing Obamacare.
"That means when you get sick, you ain't gonna be able to go to the doctor. And when you end up in the hospital, you'll be paying those bills for the rest of your life, or maybe you'll go bankrupt," he added.
One of the most controversial parts of Obamacare for the Republicans is the fact that it does not allow insurers to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions.
Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress sought to make the federal government responsible for health care coverage, while republicans want the states to decide for themselves whether to have public insurance.
During his presidential campaign, Sanders repeatedly promised to bring universal single-payer healthcare to the United States similar to what many European countries have.
A few months before his loss in the democratic primaries the Vermont independent senator outlined a government-run program that would offer all U.S. citizens coverage for doctors' visits, hospital stays, vision, dental and mental health services. He proposed that the federal government would be able to fund such a program by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
However, Cruz had a very different approach towards health care. During his presidential bid, he vowed to repeal "every word" of Obamacare. Cruz has been one of the most outspoken U.S. lawmakers against Obama’s system giving a more than 20-hour speech to oppose funding for the Affordable Care Act on the Senate’s floor in 2013.
The debate comes just days after Trump, who promised to repeal Obamacare and signed an executive order suspending some of its articles, said that it would be complicated to replace it and that it would not be repealed this year.
Last week more than 9.2 million U.S. consumers signed up for Obamacare during the open enrollment period between November and January, as many pushed to gain access to the system before the Republicans repeal it.