White House slams Sanders's 'Medicare for all' rollout

The White House on Wednesday slammed Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone GOP Senate campaign arm hits battleground-state Dems over 'Medicare for All,' Green New Deal Warren unveils plan to cancel student loan debt, create universal free college MORE's (I-Vt.) rollout of an updated version of his "Medicare for all" bill, chiding the 2020 presidential hopeful as health care promises to be a key election issue.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders derided the plan as a "total government takeover of health care that would actually hurt seniors, eliminate private health insurance for 180 million Americans, and cripple our economy and future generations with unprecedented debt."

She said in a statement that the Trump administration is working on "realistic solutions" to address the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act. The White House did not offer specifics but pledged to protect individuals with preexisting conditions and reduce costs.

The pushback against Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, underscored President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE's inclination to make health care a centerpiece of the 2020 campaign.

Bernie Sanders unveiled a bill earlier Wednesday that would largely eliminate private insurance and institute a single-payer system managed by the government.

The legislation will also include coverage for long-term care, such as nursing homes, which is currently not covered by the Medicare program. Home- and community-based care will also be covered.

The bill has 14 Senate co-sponsors, including four other senators running for the Democratic nomination.

“The American people are increasingly clear: They want a health care system which guarantees health care to all Americans as a right," Bernie Sanders said at the bill announcement.

Trump, who included attacks on Medicare for all in his stump speeches during last year's midterm campaign, has placed the debate over health care at the center of his reelection bid.

The president has vowed the GOP will be the "party of great health care," but has not provided a plan of his own.

He said late last month that a group of Republican senators would work to put together a proposal, but later agreed to hold off on a formal vote until after the 2020 election in the face of pushback from party members.

"We’ll be the party of health care," Trump said at a House GOP fundraising event earlier this month. "Republicans should not run away from health care, you can’t do it. You’re going to get clobbered. If we stay away from that subject we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose. We can’t stay away, it’s too important.”