Kamala Harris’ Proposal Provides a Middle-Ground on Healthcare

This morning, two days before she takes the stage for the second Democratic presidential debate, Senator Kamala Harris released her new Medicare For All plan, calling for a government-run health insurance system that includes provisions for private insurance plans.

Though Harris originally signed onto Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All legislation, which details an expedited path to government-run insurance and an elimination of private insurance plans, her proposal is more moderate, giving a longer window of time in which to transition to the new system. Harris’ proposed plan also clearly supports a continued role for private health insurance companies within the requirements set for Medicare plans.

A significant debate surrounding the Medicare for All proposals introduced by multiple presidential candidates involves the immediate transition from private healthcare plans to a government-run health insurance system. This morning’s proposal seeks to address these concerns and provide a method to incorporate the benefits of a government-run system with the familiarity of private health insurance plans. Progressive critics often argue against proposals similar to Harris’, citing the support for large corporations and the proliferation of corruption in the healthcare industry.

Senator Harris’ plan will likely still include the protections for reproductive health care outlined in Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, which includes “comprehensive reproductive, maternity, and newborn care.” The bill ensures that the Hyde amendment will not restrict Medicare funding for abortion services, noting that the existing plan would not apply to the newly proposed program.

Both existing and proposed Medicare for All plans provide a stark contrast to the proposed restrictions to Medicare under the Trump Administration. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), proposed a new abortion restriction in February under the Affordable Care Act in their “2020 Payment Notice.” The rule is meant to deter insurers from covering abortion services, requiring insurance companies that have plans covering non-Hyde abortions to also have at least one matching plan that does not cover these abortions. Non-Hyde abortions are abortions for pregnancies that are not a result of rape or incest and do not threaten the mother’s life.


Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 2/11/19; Politico 4/10/19; Medium 7/29/19; Politico 7/29/19

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