Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump clamps down on federal agencies Mellman: First things first? Dems indignant as Comey keeps his job MORE accused Bernie SandersBernie SandersVoter fraud allegations reignite squabble Mulvaney vows to give Trump straight talk on entitlements Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador MORE of wanting to “tear up” ObamaCare during a combative exchange during Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
Assailing Sanders’s “Medicare-for-all” proposal, Clinton said the party should be focused on strengthening and improving the Affordable Care Act, also called ObamaCare. Seeking "to tear it up and start over again," she said, would be taking the country in the "wrong direction."
Sanders countered that it was "nonsense" to say that he wants to dismantle ObamaCare. He said his healthcare proposal would replace President Obama’s signature healthcare reform law with a system that insures even more people.
"I voted for it," Sanders said of ObamaCare. "But right now what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance."
He pointed to much higher per-person healthcare spending in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries and the problem of people being "underinsured" with high copays and deductibles.
"I certainly respect Sen. Sanders's intentions," Clinton responded, but added that the "details really matter."
She called Sanders's ideas impractical, noting that even when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress in 2009 and 2010, they could not get the votes for a government-run "public option" in ObamaCare.
"We have the Affordable Care Act," Clinton said, noting that it was achieved after Democratic presidents since Harry Truman had tried and failed to pass a healthcare overhaul. "Let's make it work."
Sanders released the details of his Medicare for all plan earlier on Sunday amid escalating attacks from the Clinton campaign.
Sanders's plan released Sunday includes some tax increases on the middle class. It features a 2.2 percent healthcare premium, calculated based on income tax rules. Employers would also pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax that could be passed on to workers.
Taxes would increase dramatically for wealthier people.
Clinton's campaign has previously criticized Sanders for the cost of his plan and for having to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it.
Sanders on Sunday acknowledged that taxes would go up some, but said the middle class would end up saving large amounts of money because people would no longer have to pay premiums and deductibles for private insurance.
An analysis released by the Sanders campaign from Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, says a family of four making $50,000 would save $5,807 under the Sanders plan, despite paying $466 in the new tax.
"A little more in taxes, do away with private health insurance premiums, it’s a pretty good deal," Sanders said at the debate.
He said he was disappointed in the Clinton campaign for making the attack on raising taxes, saying, "It's a Republican criticism."
This story was updated at 10:18 p.m.