Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has flip-flopped again on the question of whether her health care proposal would allow for private health insurance, telling CNN on Tuesday evening that there would be “very little” of it under her plan.
In January, Harris said during a CNN town hall that she supported ending private health insurance as part of her support for “Medicare for All” legislation: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
Harris then walked back that claim, after it provoked criticism and outrage. But last month, at the first Democratic debate, she raised her hand when the candidates were asked by the moderator which of them would “abolish [Americans’] private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan.”
The next day, she walked that back, saying that she would allow “supplemental” private insurance.
However, the “Medicare for All” bill that she has co-sponsored in the Senate would prohibit any “private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.”
Given the sweeping benefits provided by the bill, critics say, that would effectively end private health insurance. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who introduced the bill, says bluntly that it would end private health insurance.
On Tuesday, Harris admitted to CNN that her plan would allow “very little” private health insurance. She also admitted that Americans already have access to health care in a “crisis”:
CNN: The role of private insurance — are you limiting that to something like cosmetic insurance? Or — what is the exact role of private insurance?
Harris: To cover what is not otherwise covered.
CNN: So that includes — what?
Harris: Very little, because almost everything will be covered. Almost everything will be covered. And here is the important piece. We’ve got “Medicare for All” right now. And you know what that is? It’s the emergency room. And it is extremely expensive for the American taxpayer. And also it’s a system that basically means that people have access to health care when they’re in crisis. A smart system will not require people to be in crisis before they have access to health care.
CNN: So then how does this plan differ from what Senator Sanders is proposing?
Harris: I think that they’re very similar. I don’t think they are — i’m supporting his bill. So to the extent he talks about his bill. I don’t know what else’s talking about. I mean, I’m not support in support of middle class families paying more taxes for it.
Echoing an infamous broken promise of President Barack Obama, Harris also said: “You’re not going to have to lose your doctor. It is very unlikely.”
On Wednesday, a new Quinnipiac poll showed Harris as the frontrunner in her home state of California, albeit within a 3.9% margin of error, with 23% to 21% for former vice president Joe Biden, 18% for Sanders (I-VT), and 16% for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), though she has been out-raised there by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (polling at just 3%).
Referring to the recent controversy over President Donald Trump’s recent tweets, Harris told CNN in the interview that the president “needs to go back where he came from and leave that office.”
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. 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.