Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) released a new version of “Medicare for All” on Monday, ahead of the second Democratic debate in Detroit, Michigan.
Harris had earlier signed on to co-sponsor the “Medicare for All” bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), but ran into trouble at the first debate when she raised her hand to indicate that she supported ending private insurance. Harris had previously flip-flopped on the issue, before and after the debate.
The new policy, published at Medium, begins with the premise that health care is a “right” to be provided by government (and the citizens who must be taxed to provide it).
It also attempts to clarify Harris’s stance on private insurance. As the policy indicates (original emphasis):
Medicare for All will cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services. It will also allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
Under my Medicare for All plan, we will also expand the program to include other benefits Americans desperately need that will save money in the long run such as an expanded mental health program including telehealth and easier access to early diagnosis and treatment, and innovative patient programs to help people identify the right doctor and understand how to navigate the health system.
Third, in setting up this plan, we will allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans as a part of this system that adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits. This would function similar to how private Medicare plans work today, which cover about a third of Medicare seniors, and operate within the Medicare system. Medicare will set the rules of the road for these plans, including price and quality, and private insurance companies will play by those rules, not the other way around. This preserves the options that seniors have today and expands options to all Americans, while also telling insurance companies they don’t run the show.
People will also be able to purchase supplemental insurance covering services not included in Medicare, such as medical insurance for traveling abroad, or cosmetic surgery.
Essentially, this repeats Harris’s prior position: private insurance will be eliminated, except for private Medicare, and for benefits not covered by Medicare — which is a very small area of health care.
After a ten-year transition, “every American will be a part of this new Medicare system. They will get insurance either through the new public Medicare plan or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurer within that system,” the plan says.
Harris’s plan also takes on Sanders directly, disagreeing with his proposal to tax middle-class earners to pay for the new entitlement. (Sanders argues that middle-class families would come out ahead, thanks to cost savings on health care.)
Instead, Harris proposes to “tax Wall Street stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.