Story highlights

Clinton has sought to cast Sanders' plan as going backwards by repealing Obamacare

"People who have health emergencies can't wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass," Clinton said Friday

Des Moines, Iowa CNN  — 

Hillary Clinton on Friday cast Bernie Sanders’ plan for single-payer health insurance as an “idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

The swipe builds on Clinton’s repeated rhetoric against the Vermont senator’s proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care plan that he proposed earlier this month. The plan would provide health coverage to all Americans but would be paid for by raising taxes on most Americans.

Clinton has sought to cast Sanders’ plan as going backwards by repealing Obamacare – President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement – in order to pass single-payer.

To prove her point on Friday, Clinton asked Joan Hanna, a woman she met backstage here before a campaign event, to talk about how her daughter’s brain cancer and coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“I want you to understand why I am fighting so hard for the Affordable Care Act. I don’t want it repealed. I don’t want us to be thrown back into a terrible, terrible national debate,” Clinton said as Hanna took the stage. “I don’t want us to end up in gridlock. People can’t wait. People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

Hanna spoke about how her daughter has recovered from brain cancer and gained coverage despite her pre-existing condition, under Obamacare.

“My daughter has brain cancer and she was never asked about pre-existing conditions,” Hanna said. “It was a great gift to our family.”

Clinton added, “People can’t wait. You daughter calls and says she has a mass in her forehead, you can’t wait. You quit your job to take care of your sick daughter – something I think a lot of us can relate to – you can’t wait.”

Sanders and his aides refute the idea that his plan would overturn the Affordable Care Act. His campaign has also responded to Clinton by noting that she, too, has supported single-payer health care, particularly in her push for greater health care in the early 1990s.

“I believe that health care in this country should be a right of all people, not a privilege,” Sanders has said routinely at events in Iowa this week.

Sanders’ plan, which has been welcomed by many liberals, would funnel all Americans into a government-run health insurance program similar to the Medicare program that already covers senior citizens.

The plan comes with a hefty price tag: $1.38 trillion per year, according to calculations released by the Sanders campaign. To pay for it, Sanders is calling for a new 2.2% income tax on all Americans and a 6.2% levy on employers. But he would also hike taxes on the wealthy.