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 SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.) criticized his 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Sanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll 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 HarrisHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine 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'RourkeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Poll: Biden, Sanders and Warren lead 2020 Democrats in New Hampshire Poll: Biden leads 2020 Democrats by 13 points, followed by Sanders, Warren and Harris MORE (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet MORE, are major backers of that approach.