Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont took aim Thursday at presidential nomination rival Joe Biden, accusing the former vice president of using insurance industry “talking points” to criticize Sanders' plan to implement a government-run “Medicare-for-all” system.
“It is really sad that Joe Biden is using the talking points of the insurance industry to attack Medicare for All,” Sanders claimed in an email to supporters.
“Joe must know that we currently spend twice as much per capita on health care as the people of almost any other major country and that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” added the independent senator who’s making his second straight White House bid.
Biden has opposed the “Medicare-for-all” plan championed by Sanders and supported by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – a co-front-runner with Biden right now in the Democrats' primary race. The Senate bill – which Sanders authored – would eliminate private insurance. Biden, instead, has been pushing for a public option to strengthen and supplement the national health-care law better known as ObamaCare.
At Tuesday’s fourth-round presidential primary debate, Biden once again criticized “Medicare-for-all,” taking aim at its price tag.
“The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years. That is more on a yearly basis than the entire federal budget,” he emphasized.
He also argued that the costs would be passed on to average Americans.
“If a fireman and a schoolteacher are making $100,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $10,000,” Biden noted. “That is more than they will possibly save on this health-care plan.”
Responding, Sanders indirectly accused Biden of failing to stand up to the health-care industry.
“I will tell you what the issue is here. The issue is whether the Democratic Party has the guts to stand up to the health-care industry, which made $100 billion in profit, whether we have the guts to stand up to the corrupt, price-fixing pharmaceutical industry, which is charging us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” he stressed.
“If we don't have the guts to do that, if all we can do is take their money, we should be ashamed of ourselves,” Sanders added.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Ohio, Biden returned fire, saying, “Bernie doesn’t pay for half his plan.”
And, taking aim at both Sanders and Warren – who unlike Sanders has refused to acknowledge that middle-class taxes would rise to pay for “Medicare-for-all” – Biden said, “look, the last thing the Democrats should be doing is playing (President) Trump’s game and trying to con the American people to think this is easy. There’s nothing easy about it.”
The intra-party battle over implementing “Medicare-for-all” versus strengthening the nation’s health-care law – known as the Affordable Care Act – has been a leading and divisive issue in the race for the presidential nomination.