Dem Gov. Inslee on Eliminating Private Insurance: ‘I Don’t Think It’s Necessary’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D.), a possible 2020 presidential candidate, broke away from the base of his party Monday to say he doesn't support the government eliminating private health insurance in order to implement "Medicare for all."

Asked by CNN host Poppy Harlow about the newly popular idea of expanding Medicare to eliminate private insurance, Inslee said there are better ways to achieve universal health coverage.

"I don't think it's necessary. And right now we need to embrace the things we can have to move towards universal health care," Inslee told Harlow. "Like a public option which we're embracing in my state. Like integrating physical and mental health. Like allowing earlier buy-in and an option of Medicare for those who want to enter into the program, like reducing the age in Medicare. These are all things we can do without eliminating private insurance carriers."

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) ignited a debate within the Democratic Party when she called for the elimination of private health insurance plans during a televised town hall hosted by CNN in Des Moines, Iowa. While talking about her support for "Medicare for all," Harris revealed that her plan would eliminate the private insurance market.

"Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation where you've got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, ‘Well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this.' Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on," Harris said.

CNN reported that Harris walked back her comments, but staffers for the California Democrat disputed the walk-back. They said Harris is for eliminating private insurance in favor for a single public insurer but is open to more moderate plans that would allow for private insurance.

Harris's comments have caused a split among Democrats, with other 2020 candidates coming out in favor of her stance or dodging the question.

Harlow also asked Inslee whether he supports Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (N.Y.) plan to raise the marginal tax rate to 70 percent for those making over $10 million.

"I am very supportive of righting the imbalance we have in our economy where the riches are going to the top—and we're giving tax breaks under the Trump tax break to millionaires, and that needs to be repealed as the first order of business. And I think we ought to be willing to recognize that the enormous income inequality that we're experiencing, in part, can be addressed with a more progressive tax system," Inslee said.

"Do you support a 70 percent or higher marginal tax rate on the 10 million dollar above?" Harlow asked.

"I support increasing the progressivity of our tax code. What the right number is, I haven't identified a number, but I've identified a fact, and that is we need to address this massive income inequality," Inslee said.