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Sanders outlines steps on health care for Biden

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Overnight Health Care: Medicaid enrollment reaches new high | White House gives allocation plan for 55M doses | Schumer backs dental, vision, hearing in Medicare Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare MORE (I-Vt.) outlined steps Joe BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE can take on health care that he says would be popular as the former vice president prioritizes uniting the Democratic Party ahead of the general election. 

Sanders, a vocal progressive and advocate for “Medicare for All,” recognized that Biden, a centrist, is unlikely to adopt a single-payer system. However, he said decreasing the age to qualify for Medicare from 65 to 55 and expanding coverage for children would be positive steps.

“My best outcome is to go forward in the direction of Medicare for All but not do it perhaps as quickly as I would want,” Sanders said on MSNBC on Saturday.

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“At least what we should do is lower the eligibility of Medicare from 65 to 55 and cover all of the children in this country. And then we can figure out ways that we can expand and improve the [Affordable Care Act]," he continued. "Those are some of the things Joe Biden can do without embracing a full Medicare for All concept.”

Sanders made Medicare for All one of the cornerstones of his failed presidential bid, thrusting an idea once unpopular deeper into the mainstream and making the policy a priority among progressives.

Biden has offered overtures to liberals since Sanders dropped out of the race and he all but clinched the nomination, including proposing dropping the age to qualify for Medicare from 65 to 60 and unveiling a plan to cancel some student debt.

While Biden still faces an uphill climb among Sanders’s most arduous supporters, some of whom have vowed to not support the former vice president, Sanders said the steps he proposed could gain support.

“If Joe Biden said tomorrow that every American 55 years of age or older would be eligible for Medicare, I think that would be enormously popular and an enormously effective policy program,” Sanders said.

Despite disagreements over Medicare for All, Sanders gave a full-throated endorsement to Biden earlier this month. 

“We need you in the White House. I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe,” Sanders told Biden during a virtual event on the coronavirus. “Today, I am asking all Americans — I'm asking every Democrat, I'm asking every independent, I'm asking a lot of Republicans — to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse.”