Kamala Harris was widely considered to have been the big
winner in last night’s Democratic debate but in the midst of the evening, she
committed a gaffe that she was forced to walk back this morning. The radical
Democratic candidate seems to realize that she went a little too far to the
left when asked about abolishing private health insurance.
At one point in the evening, moderator Lester
Holt of NBC News asked the 10 candidates to raise their hands if they would
“abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan.”
Only Harris and Bernie Sanders raised their hands.
In the light of day, the answer must not seem as good as it
did in a room full of Democratic activists because the California senator
qualified her position on private health insurance this morning on MSNBC’s
“Morning Joe.” On the show, Harris said that she misunderstood the
“Once and for all, do you believe that private insurance
should be eliminated in this country?” co-host Willie Geist asked Harris.
“No,” Harris answered, adding, “But the question was, ‘Would
you give up your private insurance for that option?’ And I said yes.”
“Oh, I think you heard it differently than others, then,”
“Probably, because that’s what I heard,” Harris replied.
Harris then stated, “I am a proponent of ‘Medicare for All,”
adding that she would not eliminate private health insurance but that it “will exist for supplemental coverage.”
Later in the interview, Geist pressed Harris again, asking, “So,
to boil it down, Medicare for All, available to everyone if they want it, but
if they have private insurance, they keep it?”
“For supplemental. For supplemental coverage,” Harris said.
“Otherwise, they’re in Medicare for All.”
In essence, it seems that Harris originally told the truth
when she said that she supported abolishing private health insurance in
exchange for Medicare for All. Even if her plan leaves private insurers intact
for supplemental coverage, most Americans would lose their current health
insurance, which was the gist of the question.
Harris’ position also leaves open the question of why
Americans would need supplemental health insurance if Medicare for All is the be-all-end-all
of health insurance and would include dental and vision coverage. Whatever the
reason, under Harris’ plan, Americans would face both higher taxes for
nationalized healthcare and premiums for a supplemental private plan. It doesn’t
sound like a great deal.
Voters agree. While polling often shows support for single-payer
plans such as Medicare for All, that support plummets
when voters find out more details about the plan. Voters don’t like the
idea that federal healthcare could increase wait times for care or that it
would dramatically increase taxes.
Other polls cast doubt on the idea that voters are willing
to blow up the healthcare system. Real
Clear Politics found in May that less than a third of voters want a
completely new system. A large majority, 68 percent, want to make improvements
to the current system.
Even if voters are scared away from Kamala Harris by her threats
to toss out the current health insurance system, healthcare does represent a
weakness for Republicans. Healthcare is a top
issue for voters and the GOP has been silent on the topic since its
abortive attempt to repeal Obamacare in 2017. Since then Republicans have
focused on tariffs
and illegal immigration, issues where they are at odds with the majority of
Republicans of the Bush era failed to address Americans concerns
about the high cost of healthcare. That failure led directly to the election of
Barack Obama and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It could be
that history is repeating itself as the Republican failure to present a viable
alternative to Obamacare may lead to the passage of an even more radical
government takeover of the healthcare industry under the next president.