Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday unveiled a plan to push the country towards a government-backed Medicare-for-all healthcare system over the next decade.
But unlike the proposal of one of her key rivals for the Democratic nomination – independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – the plan by the California Democrat would not completely eliminate the private insurance currently used by hundreds of millions of Americans.
And Harris emphasized that unlike Sanders, she would not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for her Medicare-for-all system.
“One idea put forward by Senator Sanders, for example, is increasing taxes for families making as little as $29,000 a year,” her campaign spotlighted as they released their candidate’s plan. “She believes that hits the middle class too hard, so she would not raise taxes on families making under $100,000 to help pay for this plan,” her campaign highlighted.
The release of the plan comes two days before Harris stands center stage next to former Vice President Joe Biden in Detroit at the second round of Democratic primary debates.
Biden, the front-runner right now in the 2020 Democratic race and the only top-tier contender who doesn’t support a single-payer Medicare-for-all system, has repeatedly taken jabs this month at Harris over a lack of straightforwardness on how she’d pay for her plan.
Late last week the former vice president once again singled out Sanders for being honest about the ramifications of implementing the single-payer health care plan.
But Biden once again questioned Harris’ truthfulness.
“I find that people will say they’re for Medicare-for-all but they're not going to tax the middle class because we don't need to do that. Come on. My point is this is a fantasy world here,” Biden emphasized.
"I think we should have an honest debate. Look, you can't go out and you can't run for president and beat Donald Trump without leveling with the American people about what you're going to do and how you're going to pay for it. I'm anxious for that debate,” he added.
Harris says to pay for her plan, she would target Wall Street, taxing stock trades at .2 percent, bond trades at .1 percent, and derivative transactions at .002 percent. The former California attorney general said she would also end foreign tax shelters by taxing offshore corporate income at the same rates as they’re taxed in the U.S.
The candidate argues that those proposals would raise more than $2 trillion over ten years, which she says is more than enough to make up the difference from raising the middle class income threshold to $100,000.
Harris also spotlighted that her plan allows private insurers to offer Medicare plans “that adhere to strict Medicare requirements” as part of the system she’s proposing. She compared it to the one-third of Medicare seniors who currently have supplemental private plans.
In announcing her proposal, Harris highlighted that “right now, the American health care system is a patchwork of plans, providers and costs that have left people frustrated, powerless and insurance companies in charge. And the bottom line is that health care just costs too much.”
Her proposal – if enacted – would allow all Americans to immediately have the ability to buy in Medicare – which is similar to what Sanders is proposing.
It would establish a ten-year phase-in-period. During the transition, newborns and the uninsured would automatically be enrolled in the public Medicare system. Harris explained that the “extended phase-in period gives all doctors time to get into the system and provides a commonsense path for employers, employees, the underinsured and others on federally-designated programs, such as Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, to transition.”
She added that expanding the transition window would lower the overall cost of the program.