FLASHBACK: Kamala Harris Loved Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All Act

Harris now not ‘comfortable’ with plan

August 19, 2019

Kamala Harris was the first Democrat to announce her support for the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All bill when it was unveiled, but she now is telling donors she is no longer "comfortable" with the single-payer healthcare proposal.

Harris jumped at the opportunity to endorse the radical healthcare proposal in August 2017, telling voters at a California town hall of her plans to co-sponsor the bill before it was even proposed.

"Here, I'll break some news: I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare-for-all bill, because it's just the right thing to do," she told the crowd, making her the first lawmaker to back the bill. "Somebody should tell my staff."

After two years of embracing the bill—she cosponsored it both in 2017 and when it was re-introduced this year—Harris now says she can no longer support it.

"I finally was like, I can’t make this circle fit into a square," Harris explained before expressing support for an alternative plan with more choice.

"Look, I’m still committed to reining in the private insurance companies," Harris said, according to the Washington Post. "They’re jacking up prices. But people want choice, and I don’t want to be in the business of just taking choice from them without figuring out a way to create options."

The remark is the latest in a series of reversals on healthcare by Harris, who appeared alongside Sanders at a press conference announcing the bill in September 2017. 

She thanked Sanders upon taking the podium and called his plan the "right thing to do morally and ethically."

"I'm proud to stand with my colleagues and friends and support Medicare for All," she said to applause alongside Sanders.

Harris shared the same sentiment in a video tweeted the morning of the announcement, calling Sanders’s plan "smart for us as tax payers" and "just the right thing to do."

When Sanders re-introduced an updated version of the Medicare for All Act in April, Harris expressed her pride to once again cosponsor the bill.

"Medicare is the most popular health plan in the country because it works," Harris said in a press release detailing her support for Sanders’s bill. "Medicare for All finally makes sure every American has affordable, comprehensive health care."

Harris during a January CNN town hall said she wanted to get rid of private health care entirely, but then backtracked the very next day.

In May, Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper her own health care plan would not eliminate private insurance. Then, during the first Democratic primary debate, Harris again said she supported abolishing private insurance in favor of a government run-plan.

Harris’s own plan was then released in July. Though she calls it Medicare for All, it is not a single-payer health care system and does not eliminate the private insurance industry. 

Her back-and-forth on the issue has frustrated some voters. Harris’s most recent critique of Sanders’s plan comes after an elderly voter told Harris to "leave our health care system alone."