Does ‘Medicare for All’ in United States end private insurance? (USA)
WASHINGTON — “Medicare for All”? Or Medicare for all who want it?
Democrats running for president will need to decide which one they’re supporting or risk ending up in the muddled situation Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., found herself in last weekend.
Harris made a decision early in the race to run on single-payer Medicare for All, specifically a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would effectively replace existing private health insurance plans with a souped-up version of Medicare that covers more than the current program and requires no premiums or deductibles.
Asked at by CNN’s Jake Tapper at town hall in January whether she really intended to ban people’s existing private coverage in favor of this new Medicare plan, Harris didn’t flinch.
“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 answered. “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
On Sunday, speaking to Tapper again, Harris reiterated her support for the Medicare for All bill, but then turned to some more lawyer-like explanations of how she would deal with private insurance:
HARRIS: I support Medicare for All, but I really do need to clear up what happened on that stage.
TAPPER: Yes, OK.
HARRIS: It was in the context of saying, let’s get rid of all the bureaucracy. Let’s get all of the waste…
TAPPER: Oh, not the insurance companies?
HARRIS: No. That’s not what I meant. I know it was interpreted that way. If you watch the tape, I think you’ll see that there are obviously many interpretations of what I said. What I meant is, let’s get rid of the bureaucracy. As it relates to Medicare…
TAPPER: But the bill gets rid of insurance.
HARRIS: But — no, no, no, no, it does not get rid of insurance. It does not get rid of insurance.
Her answer is technically accurate if you squint at it, but it’s also likely to confuse voters who want to know what happens to their health care if the single-payer bill becomes law.
A viewer watching might assume that Harris, by objecting to Tapper’s characterization, is saying that their own private insurance plans would not be eliminated under the Medicare for All bill she supports.
That’s not the case.
In fact, the bill would outright ban private insurance that provides similar coverage to the new Medicare for All plans after a short transition period. That means everyone with comprehensive employee benefits or a private plan through the Affordable Care Act today would be moved onto Medicare.