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Biden is wrong: A single-payer healthcare system is not the problem in Italy

An unpredictable stretch.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter


The whole of Italy has been on lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19 for more than 10 days now.

The regions of Lombardia and Veneto are at the epicenter of the crisis and have been dealing with the epidemic for much longer than that. Hospitals there are overrun. There is not enough space in intensive care units (ICUs), which are necessary to treat about 10% of those infected with the disease. The situation has been compared to a war.

During the latest Democratic presidential debate earlier this week, former vice president Joe Biden used the Italian example as evidence that Medicare for All—which is supported by his main competitor for the presidency, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders—is ineffective. “With all due respect for Medicare for All, you have a single-payer system in Italy—it doesn’t work there,” Biden said, referring to the coronavirus epidemic.

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