Kamala Harris's Medicare for All Plan: Just Another Gateway to Socialized Healthcare | Citizens Against Government Waste
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Kamala Harris's Medicare for All Plan: Just Another Gateway to Socialized Healthcare

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On Monday, July 29 and a day before the scheduled Democratic debates, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) offered her version of “Medicare for All.”  It has been touted as an idea somewhere in between Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden’s healthcare plans.  Her announcement, filled with platitudes and talking points, provides just broad strokes of what the plan would do and provides no figures on how much it will cost.  Bottom line:  Sen. Harris’s plan is just another entry way to force government-run healthcare on everyone, as Citizens Against Government Waste laid out in its July 15 blog,  “V.P. Biden's Plan is Really a Side Door to Medicare for All.”

The senator has been on a zig zag journey these past few months to developing her own health plan, either keeping or eliminating private insurance.  She has been a cosponsor of Sen. Sanders' plan since April 2019, which gets rid of private insurance entirely within four years after enactment.  In a January 28, 2019 CNN Iowa town hall, a question to Sen. Harris asked what her solution was to providing healthcare at an affordable price and whether it included cutting private insurance companies out of the equation.  Harris said, “I believe the solution is, and I actually believe very strongly in this, we need Medicare for All, that’s the bottom line.”

With respect to keeping private insurance, she said, “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 … Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”  In other words, eliminate private insurance.

Or maybe not.

In May 2019, she told [set cursor at 7:10] CNN reporter Jake Tapper she wanted to clarify she did not want to eliminate private insurance, she just wanted to get rid of the bureaucracy and that private “supplemental” insurance would remain.  She gave a round-about and confusing explanation on what would happen to private insurance since only cosmetic surgery would not be a covered benefit in Sen. Sanders’ plan and that there is currently no private insurance for these types of procedures.  When Tapper told her that union members may not want to get rid of their private plans, she agreed that was an issue that needed to be addressed.

Clearly, Sen. Harris understands that eliminating private insurance is problematic politically, so she came up with her hybrid Bernie-Biden plan. 

Just like V.P. Biden’s plan, Harris’s plan would have a public option and would keep Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, which is offered by private insurers and is utilized by approximately 34 percent of beneficiaries.  Her plan would have a ten-year transition period, while Sen. Sanders’ plan takes only four years.  New born children and the uninsured would be automatically enrolled in the public option.  Private insurers could offer "Medicare for All" plans, provided they follow the federal government’s rules.

Employers and their employees would transition over to the plan and employers would share the costs with income-based premiums.  It is unclear what would happen to Medicaid and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare exchanges, but that would be decided during the ten-year transition period.

She provides no analysis on how to pay for "Medicare for All" except that it will be similar to what Sen. Sanders’ plan calls for but unlike his plan, would not tax those families with household incomes of less than $100,000 a year.  Instead, she would tax Wall Street or “stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%” or basically a “$2 fee on a $1,000 trade by investors and big banks.”  She would end foreign tax shelters and tax offshore corporate income at the same rate as domestic corporate income.  She figures these taxes would raise more than $2 trillion over ten years, which would be “more than enough to make up the difference from raising the middle-class income threshold.”

Her plan would need much more funding than indicated.  While Sen. Harris says in her announcement that “Medicare works,” she neglects to mention that the entitlement is also going broke, with the Medicare Trustees projecting the Hospital Insurance fund will be depleted in 2026 and that Sen. Sanders thinks his plan would cost $30 to 40 trillion over ten years.

It is clear Harris’s plan was hastily written so she can have something to promote in the Wednesday night Democratic presidential debate.  Perhaps she thinks she can get an advantage over V.P. Biden, who is currently leading in the polls.  Now he will have the time to study her plan, as light as it is on details, and try to tear it apart.

In the end, if any of these socialistic-style “Medicare for All” plans are adopted, you will lose your private insurance and be beholden to politicians for your healthcare.  It is amazing that millions of Americans are prepared and anxious to do so, even though Congress has an approval rating of only 17 percent.   

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