Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said "the cost of making free prescriptions free was £57milion last year and is projected to rise to £61mill next year. That is the salary of 2000 nurses".
Ms Baillie was closing the debate for the Labour party on universal benefits.
Universal benefits include the council-tax freeze, personal care for the elderly, no tuition fees, free prescriptions and bus travel for OAPs.
Ms Baillie said "this debate is about the SNP's myth versus everybody else's reality" and that the SNP "must stop pretending".
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said that "Labour still haven't come up with a single policy" in universal benefits.
Mr Matheson said that the Scottish government would remain committed to delivering a socially just Scotland.
He also said the Scottish government were "not here to simply manage the Tory cuts for the people of Scotland " and that they had "a vision that goes beyond the Westminster system".
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: "We need a fully informed an measured debate on the subject on universal services".
He continued: "To inform this debate we are calling on the Scottish government to publish forecasts on spending on universal benefits in Scotland for the next 10 years".
At decision time MSPs voted by 61 to 52 in favour of the Scottish government motion highlighting the importance of universal services.
A Labour amendment which claimed the Scottish Government's spending choices were having a "detrimental impact on public services" and expressed "dismay"
over cuts to the college, housing and local government budgets was defeated by 40 votes to 61 with 12 abstentions.
A Tory amendment urging ministers to publish by the end of the year the most accurate possible forecasts for spending on universal services in Scotland for the next 10 years was also rejected by 15 votes to 98.