Joe Biden talks health care at Dartmouth College town hall meeting

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The leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is in the middle of a two-day swing through the Granite State. Joe Biden will be in Keene Saturday morning.

However, he spent the late afternoon and early evening Friday in Hanover, and most of his town hall meeting had to do with health care. Biden used the occasion to explain what may be his key different from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic hopefuls.

He told hundreds of people inside Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts that he doesn’t think Medicare for all is feasible. If the Affordable Care Act were completely jettisoned in favor of Medicare for all, Biden claims rural hospitals in our region and elsewhere would be hurt.

“There’s a provision that allows them to get subsidized and get a real write-off on the drugs they have to use in order to be able to keep the doors open,” he said. “If we go to Medicare for all, they cannot stay open just on Medicare costs being available to them.”

He says he’d want to work on health care reform within the existing structure of Obamacare and to not do away with private insurance.

“We’ll build a new public health option, like Medicare, within the Affordable Care Act, only everyone will have a chance to buy in if they wish to,” he said.

Biden also claims his plan would beat Medicare for all on price.

“It will cost 1/30th (of Medicare for all),” he said. “(It’ll) cost a lot of money! Almost $740 billion to do what I want to do over 10 years, but not $30 trillion.”

The former vice president says he wants prescription drug prices to be set by an independent board and to be tied at least somewhat to how much money each drug costs to develop.

“Even if you get 10, 20, 30, 40, 50% profit from it, not a thousand,” Biden said. “I find a drug that can do A, B, C or D — go through it — and can save your life, but guess what? I’m going to charge you $200,000 a year for it. Some drugs, that’s what it costs, by the way.”

Pete Buttigieg, one of Biden’s Democratic challengers, is campaigning Saturday at the Hanover Inn — right next door to the building Biden was in.

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