Sanders criticizes Biden health plan: 'It doesn't go anywhere near far enough'

Sanders criticizes Biden health plan: 'It doesn't go anywhere near far enough'
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden aspires to become America's auto-pen president Progressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law MORE (I-Vt.) criticized his 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign slams Trump's Rose Garden event as 'sad affair' New shutdowns add to Trump woes CNN cuts away from Trump's 'campaign-type' Rose Garden speech MORE’s health care plan on Wednesday, saying it falls short of needed changes.

“It doesn't go anywhere near far enough,” Sanders told reporters in the Capitol when asked about the former vice president’s plan. “It will be expensive, it will not cover a whole lot of people.”

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The remarks mark relatively rare direct criticism of a rival candidate in the early stages of the Democratic presidential primary. Biden and Sanders are leading in early polls, with Biden occupying a more moderate lane in contrast to Sanders’s proudly leftward stances.

Biden on Monday called for giving everyone the chance to buy into Medicare, a kind of public option for health insurance that does not go as far as Sanders’s proposal to require everyone to be covered by Medicare.

“We have a system now which is dysfunctional,” Sanders added on Wednesday. “We spend twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other nation, and yet we have tens of millions of people uninsured, underinsured and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

Biden on Monday framed his plan as allowing for more consumer choice, without directly mentioning Sanders.

“Your choice," Biden said. "And if the insurance company isn't doing the right thing by you, you should have another choice."

Health care is one of the major dividing lines in the emerging Democratic primary contest. Sanders has set a benchmark with his signature "Medicare for all" proposal, which some contenders like Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Senators raise concerns over Facebook's civil rights audit Biden's marijuana plan is out of step with public opinion MORE (D-Calif.) have thrown their support behind.

But other candidates are declining to go that far, instead saying they think private insurance should remain as an option alongside Medicare. Biden, as well as former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeHegar, West to face off in bitter Texas Senate runoff Bellwether counties show trouble for Trump Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset MORE (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden campaign hires top cybersecurity officials to defend against threats Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE, are major backers of that approach.