Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats Democrats say they're committed to reducing emissions in Biden plan MORE (I-Vt.) criticized his 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom 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.”
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 HarrisMcAuliffe rolls out ad featuring Obama ahead of campaign stop McAuliffe, Youngkin tied less than two weeks out from Virginia's Election Day: poll Are supply chain disruptions the beginning of the end of globalization? 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'RourkeSupport for governors sliding in states without vaccine mandates: survey Abbott bans vaccine mandates from any 'entity in Texas' Abbott disapproval rating up 8 points to 59 percent in San Antonio area: poll MORE (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Build Back Better items on chopping block Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock MORE, are major backers of that approach.