Harris Clarifies: Against Eliminating Private Insurance

Explains $2 trillion of new Wall Street taxes will pay for $30 trillion proposal

Kamala Harris in Des Moines(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
July 29, 2019

After months of inconsistency on the issue, Democratic presidential candidate and California senator Kamala Harris released her Medicare for All plan, clarifying that she does not support the total elimination of private insurance plans.

In a Medium post Monday, Harris said her plan will allow for some private insurance plans to survive with strict requirements.

The health care overhaul "will allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans as a part of this system that adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits," Harris explained. She also promised that each private insurance provider would be subject to "strict requirements to ensure it lowers costs and expands services."

Harris has faced questions and criticism over her plan to pay for the proposed health care overhaul. Her Medium post explains, to pay for Medicare for All, "I would tax Wall Street stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%" and "end foreign tax shelters." "These proposals," Harris says, "would raise well over $2 trillion over ten years."

Medicare for All is estimated to cost more than $30 trillion over ten years.

Harris's inconsistency on private insurance began in January of this year when she appeared to advocate for the total elimination of private insurance. "Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on," she told CNN's Jake Tapper when asked about her co-sponsorship of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) Medicare for All act.

Later, she walked back the claim, saying the act allowed for the continuation of some private insurance plans. The Washington Post deemed this claim "slippery" language given that Sanders was extremely open about the fact that his plan would totally abolish private insurance.

During the first Democratic debate, Harris raised her hand when asked if her health care plan would eliminate private insurance. However, the next day, she walked her stance back again, claiming she misheard the question.

"Once and for all, do you think that private insurance should be eliminated in this country?" Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist asked her.

"No, I do not," Harris responded.