Kamala Harris flip-flops on private health insurance and says she wants undocumented immigrants to get Medicare

GettySen. Kamala Harris.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, said she doesn’t support eliminating all private health insurance under Medicare-for-all after suggesting in January that she does.
  • Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday that “supplemental” private health insurance wouldn’t be eliminated under Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill, which she supports.
  • She also said she supports a provision in the Sanders bill that would give undocumented immigrants access to healthcare under Medicare-for-all.
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Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, said she doesn’t support eliminating all private health insurance under Medicare-for-all after suggesting in January that she does.

Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday that “supplemental” private health insurance wouldn’t be eliminated under Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all legislation, which she has co-sponsored and would phase out private insurance in favour of government insurance.

This comes after Harris suggested she supports getting rid of all private insurance during a January town hall.

Tapper argued during the Sunday interview that Sanders’ bill would eliminate private insurance for “essential healthcare benefits.” Harris didn’t dispute that, instead arguing that Medicare coverage would be more comprehensive than most private insurance.

“Ask the question why? The answer to that question is because Medicare for all, and the vision of what it will be includes an expansion of coverage,” the senator said.

Harris also said she supports a provision in the Sanders bill that would give undocumented immigrants access to healthcare under Medicare-for-all.

“I’m opposed to any policy that would deny in our country any human being from access to public safety, public education, or public health. Period,” she told Tapper.


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During a late January CNN town hall with Tapper, Harris didn’t correct the host when he said that Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill would “totally eliminate private insurance,” and instead argued that Americans wouldn’t want or need private insurance under a Medicare-for-all system.

“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,” Harris said then.

She went on, “Who of us has not had that situation where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, ‘Well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this’? Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”

But the next day, a spokesperson for Harris’ campaign said that while Harris is running on Medicare-for-all as defined by Sanders’ bill, she also supports more moderate alternatives, including a public option that would allow individuals and employers to buy into Medicare.

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