In denouncing his opponents' Medicare For All proposals, Biden said his plan would offer a Medicare-like public option. It also would extend premium-free coverage to lower-income Americans who have been denied eligibility to Medicaid in Republican-run states that refused to participate in the Affordable Care Act.
Those episodes called Biden's front-runner status into question, and it was clear over the weekend that he wanted to turn the tables on his rivals backing Medicare for All. "But I mean, I mean, it's a flat racist attack".
Fifty-four percent of Democratic primary voters say they prefer a nominee who proposes larger-scale policies that might cost more and be harder to pass - but could still result in major change.
In a video published on his Twitter account, Biden explained why he does not support eliminating private health care insurance.
Biden, the former vice president, held the biggest lead among registered voters in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday: 51% to 42%, well outside the surveys margin of error, which was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, all single-payer advocates.
"First off, I would restore all the cuts that were made, number one", Biden said.
The idea is to expand coverage immediately and shake up insurance markets long-term by forcing private insurers to compete alongside the government, theoretically pressuring to lower their premiums and out-of-pocket costs for private policyholders.
The former vice president relayed his plans during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in which he was pressed on whether he is tough enough to stand up to Trump given what many saw as a lackluster performance in the first Democratic debate.
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Once private insurance is gone, there will be no more options for healthcare coverage.
"At a time when Donald Trump and the health insurance industry are lying every day about 'Medicare for All, ' I would hope that my fellow Democrats would not resort to misinformation about my legislation", Sanders said in a statement responding to Biden's comments.
Progressive Democrats, on the other hand, have argued that a public option does not go far enough.
"We should not be starting from scratch", Biden said.
"How many of you like your employer-based health care?"
At the least, the 2020 campaign dynamics illustrate Democrats' overall leftward shift on health care.
Mr Sanders will deliver a health care speech on Wednesday and is already hitting back at Mr Biden. But ObamaCare's been severely weakened since GOP President Trump succeeded Obama in the White House.
Sens. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado also appeared at the forum Monday.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.