Harris health plan stops short of overhaul Sanders envisions

Monday, July 29, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris insists she still backs “Medicare for All,” but the health care proposal she released on Monday stops short of the full-scale health care system overhaul that her more liberal 2020 Democratic presidential rivals are advocating.

In a split with Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All’s chief architect and a fellow White House hopeful, Harris said she envisions a role for private insurers as long as they follow the government’s rules. She would slow the transition to a so-called single-payer system to 10 years from the four Sanders has proposed. And she has ruled out tax increases on middle-income Americans, an idea to which Sanders has expressed openness in exchange for lowering the price of health coverage. Medicare for All has become a defining issue in the Democratic primary, with the most progressive candidates calling for a revolutionary approach to providing insurance coverage for all Americans at a lower price. Harris’ proposal, released a day before the second round of presidential debates begins, essentially seeks to thread the Democratic Party’s disparate camps, nodding to the demands of the progressive base while acknowledging that some voters are nervous at the prospect of losing private coverage provided by their employers. But it also could open Harris to criticism that she’s trying to appease all corners while doing little to stake out a position of her own. She’s already had to repeatedly clarify her positions on fundamental aspects of the Democratic Party’s health care battle, including the role of private insurers.

A top adviser to Joe Biden, with whom Harris memorably clashed during the first debate, blasted the California senator’s plan as a failed attempt to please all sides in the debate and warned that her decision to push a 10-year transition obscures the full cost of her approach.

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