Friday, 21 February, 2020

Kamala Harris Unveils 'Medicare For All' Plan That Preserves Private Insurance

Kamala Harris Unveils 'Medicare For All' Plan That Preserves Private Insurance Kamala Harris Unveils 'Medicare For All' Plan That Preserves Private Insurance
Gustavo Carr | 30 July, 2019, 14:58

"After she launched her campaign for president, Senator Harris confirmed her support for the Sanders bill, but then, after being pressed about the ramifications of denying voters the choice of private health insurance plans, began a long and confusing pattern of equivocating about her stance on health care in America", Kate Bedingfield, a top Biden campaign official.

Still, the Harris plan would be disruptive to the system, moving the roughly 150 million Americans with employer-based coverage onto a new system set up through Medicare.

Her Medicare for all plan is less extreme than that of her presidential rival, Independent Vermont Sen. Indeed, Harris specifically rejects Sanders' proposal for a 4 percent "premium" on households making more than $29,000 annually, reserving that fee for families with incomes over $100,000, and further adjustments for high-cost areas. What she's presumably talking about here is that her costlier approach will score as having a lower fiscal cost because she's going to game the CBO scoring window.

Now, on the eve of the second Democratic debate, with the first night airing Tuesday, July 30, on CNN, Biden's poll numbers have remained steady while Harris has seen a softening of support.

Harris details her official policy plan on her campaign website and also a blog where she explained her proposal.

In response to Harris's proposals, Sanders's campaign manager Faiz Shakir argued Harris's plan is "folding to the interests of the health insurance industry", which he called "bad policy" and "bad politics". Adam Gaffney, the president of Physicians for a National Health Program, said Harris' plan has "several major shortcomings", including the continuation of private insurance and the longer transition period.

"She offers something that gets us to universal coverage without being so constrained to one way of doing it", said Dr. Kavita Patel, a Brookings Institution fellow and former healthcare advisor in the Obama administration who is not affiliated with the Harris campaign. The Congressional Budget Office, which provides cost estimates for legislation, typically estimates the price of only the first 10 years of any given piece of legislation, meaning that the fully implemented program would not be part of the cost estimate. According to Harris, the current health care system, which amounts to Obamacare minus the individual mandate and with a Medicaid expansion heavily altered thanks to the Supreme Court, is a patchwork of plans that costs too much. And would this bring American health costs down overall? Harris later said she misheard the question, and thought she was answering the question of whether she would give up her own private insurance in favor of Medicare-for-all.

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According to Sanders, the government takeover of the US health care sector could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade.

With half the field in danger of failing to qualify for the next round of debates, some will be forced to take a hard look at whether they have a viable path to the nomination and enough money to go on.

Who is moderating the second debate?

And, of course: could it pass Congress? There will be no show of hands or one-word, down-the-line questions like those used to poll candidates on their support for providing health insurance to people who are not legally in the United States. She supports creation of a government-run option to co-exist with private insurance. Amy Klobuchar, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Instead, she continues to pretend she can finance it without new taxes or fees on the broad middle class, a position that not even Bernie Sanders holds. "Come on. My point is this is a fantasy world here", Biden emphasized.

This compares to results of a July 2 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University National Poll, showing Biden with 22 percent, Harris with 20 percent, Warren with 14 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.

Twenty Democratic White House hopefuls will gather under the klieg lights for their party's second nationally-televised debate, a two-night affair beginning Tuesday in Detroit that is expected to bring more heat than the debut showdown last month.

In their last debate match up, Harris attacked Biden harshly over his past opposition to federally mandated busing.