Sanders strongly defends 'Medicare for All' after recent criticism

Sanders strongly defends 'Medicare for All' after recent criticism
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity Tlaib to join Sanders at campaign rally in Detroit MORE (I-Vt.) defended his "Medicare for All" plan in a speech Wednesday, saying it was the best way to reform the health care system and protect senior citizens.

Sanders also demanded that his rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination reject campaign contributions from health insurance and drug companies.

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"The current debate over Medicare for All has nothing to do with health care," he said during a speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"It has everything to do with the greed and profits of the health care industry."

Sanders's speech comes as he has faced intense criticism from centrist candidates over his Medicare for All proposal.

The debate reflects the divergent views within the 2020 Democratic contingent about how far to go in reforming the country's health care system. 

Former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenSupport for impeachment inches up in poll Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Democrats say they have game changer on impeachment MORE, the frontrunner for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, has attacked Medicare for All, likening it to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, more widely known as ObamaCare.

This week he unveiled a plan to that would build off the framework of ObamaCare by beefing up subsidies that help people buy insurance while creating a government-run public option. 

On Monday, Biden warned in a speech to seniors in Iowa that that under Medicare for All, their “Medicare goes away as you know it.” 

Sanders, without referring to any of his 2020 rivals by name, rejected that his plan would hurt seniors.

“Despite what you’re hearing about Medicare for seniors being weakened, the truth is exactly the opposite,” Sanders said.

“It will be strengthened by providing benefits to seniors that they today don’t have.” 

Sanders's ambitious Medicare for All plan would provide dental and vision benefits to seniors, which isn't currently covered by the Medicare program, while charging that now is "not the time for tinkering around the edges." 

Sanders's call for his rivals to reject campaign contributions from health insurance and drug companies was seen as a swipe at Biden, who has held large-dollar fundraisers with wealthy contributors from the health care industry.

"Candidates who are not willing to take that pledge should explain to the American people why those corporate interests and their donations are a good investment for the health care industry," Sanders said. 

"The time is now to tell the drug companies and insurance companies we don't want their money." 

-- Updated at 6:08 p.m.