Bernie Sanders on "irrational" health care, Elizabeth Warren's "different" campaign

Sanders: Health care system is "irrational"

As health care took center stage for a second night at the Democratic presidential debates, Senator Bernie Sanders went back on the defensive, backing up his "Medicare for All" proposal and lambasting current health care policy as "irrational."

In his first network interview since Tuesday's debate, Sanders took on criticism by another top tier candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, who claimed that "Medicare for All" policies would mean a big deduction in Americans' pay checks. 

"This is what I believe and this is what the case is, we are now spending twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country,"  Sanders told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.  "The function of health care must not be as is the case right now, for the drug companies and insurances companies to make huge profits while 87 million Americans can't afford the health care that they have."

Sanders, who recently traveled to Canada with a group of American diabetics to expose the stark disparity in prices of medically-necessary insulin between the U.S. and its neighbor, said the U.S. needs to model its health care systems like that of other countries around the world. 

Through "Medicare for All," the progressive plan would essentially eradicate most forms of private insurance -- something Sanders contends would limit profiteering by a litany of insurance companies. 

"We can cut the costs that people pay for health care substantially by eliminating the profiteering, the complexity and the bureaucracy of the current system," he said. But a CBS News poll found that nearly two-thirds of Democrats think a national health care plan would work better if it does compete with private health insurance. 

Sanders argued, however, that "competition is terrible in health care."

"The function of an insurance company is to deny you the claims you thought you had," he said. 

The candidate wouldn't say whether he and fellow "Medicare for All" supporter Sen. Elizabeth Warren, had a pact of sorts to not attack one another while on the debate and campaign circuit. 

"Look, Elizabeth and I have been friends over 20 years. She's running her campaign and I'm running my campaign. They're different campaigns. But I think the most effective campaign, to be honest with you, is to talk to the American people about why the middle class is disappearing, why we have massive income and wealth inequality," he said. 

He added, "You talk about those issues, you do well. If you try to beat up on somebody else, frankly, I don't think it's good politics."

Asked how he intends to stand out from his colleague in the Senate ahead of the next debate, Sanders told CBS: "I'll let you guys and the punditry and the American people make that decision."

"We've got to take on corporate greed, we've got to create an economy that works for all of us not just the 1%. That's my message. That's what I campaign on," he added. 

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    Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital