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 SandersButtigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll MORE (I-Vt.) criticized his 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Democrats reach cusp of impeachment 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 HarrisPoll: Buttigieg slips into fourth place as Biden widens lead Yang qualifies for December Democratic debate The media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? 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'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Mellman: Looking to Iowa MORE, are major backers of that approach.