Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden said that it would be impossible to pay for "Medicare for All" without raising taxes on the middle class, taking aim at Kamala Harris' claim that the plan could be paid for with a Wall Street tax. Bernie Sanders, the leading advocate for a single-payer system known as "Medicare for All".
She still envisions a role for the private system, just as long as it takes its lead from the government. After that, employers could participate in the government-run Medicare plan or offer their workers a private plan certified by Medicare. "Harris' vision of Medicare for All is achievable, clear, and demonstrates a firm commitment to making access to health care a right for all Americans, regardless of income".
"I look at this issue through a fairly simple prism: each night, millions of Americans wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning anxious about some aspect of their health care", said Harris, "How am I going to afford a $5,000 deductible just for walking my child into the emergency room because their fever won't go down?" I find the people who say they are for Medicare for All but are not going to tax the middle class because you don't need to do that?- come on.
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. But - after the transition - she says there can be private insurance in HM4A.
Looking ahead...the second Democratic debates begin tonight.
"If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system", Harris said.
Then, at last month's Democratic primary debate, she raised her hand to signal an answer of yes about eliminating private plans; the following day, she backtracked again, saying she'd misunderstood the question. During the transition, newborns and the uninsured would automatically be enrolled in the public Medicare system. "The Medicare Transition Plan will provide enhanced benefits with limited cost-sharing requirements and financial assistance for those who qualify based on income".
Her plan includes a 10-year phase-in period, longer than Sanders' four-year phase-in, according to NBC News.
Harris, tellingly, has not provided any cost estimate of her own, nor has she specified how it would pay providers, a critical issue for determining a price tag.
For example, more than 7 in 10 respondents said it is "very important" to prevent insurers from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, while 64% said it is "very important" to prevent them from charging sick people higher premiums than they charge healthy people.
The Harris campaign said that extending the transition period would decrease the overall cost of Medicare for All, but it did not specify what that new estimated cost would be. In Iowa, multiple voters asked Harris about the jobs that would be lost in the private insurance sector should Medicare-for-all mandate public coverage. "Health care is personal to people and we should make sure we get it right".
"This new, have-it-every-which-way approach pushes the extremely challenging implementation of the Medicare for All part of this plan 10 years into the future, meaning it would not occur on the watch of even a two-term administration", said Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield. Democrats, however, are divided on the best way to reform the system.
"But her program is not Medicare for All", he stated on CNN.
New taxes: One key revenue-raiser Sanders has proposed for Medicare for All is what his plan calls a 4% "premium" on household income over $29,000.
The California senator said her plan wouldn't raise taxes on households making less than $100,000 a year - unlike Sanders's proposal, which he has acknowledged would require middle-class tax hikes to eliminate out-of-pocket costs. Instead, she would add taxes on stock and bond trades as well as derivative transactions, and tax offshore corporate income at the same rate as domestic corporate income. Sanders will appear on Tuesday, the first night, and Harris on Wednesday, the second night.
Under her proposal, Americans could opt for Medicare Advantage, a program that allows beneficiaries to get coverage from a private insurer.
"Call it anything you want, but you can't call this plan Medicare for All".