Kamala Harris announces Medicare-for-all plan that doesn't eliminate private insurers

Kamala Harris
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Ahead of the second round of Democratic presidential debates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has just announced her health-care proposal.

Harris says that under her plan, all Americans would be able to buy into Medicare immediately. A "new and improved" Medicare system would then be expanded over the course of a decade, which would "give all doctors time to get into the system, and provide a commonsense path for employers, employees, the underinsured, and others on federally-designated programs, such as Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, to transition," she said.

In describing this 10-year transition, Harris calls out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has proposed a transition period of four years, CNN notes. "By extending the phase-in period to 10 years, we will decrease the overall cost of the program compared to the Sanders proposal," Harris said.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Harris' plan would not eliminate private insurers, though. Instead, they would be able to offer their own Medicare plans, so long as they adhere to certain standards.

"Essentially, we would allow private insurance to offer a plan in the Medicare system, but they will be subject to strict requirements to ensure it lowers costs and expands services," Harris said. "If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system. If not, they have to get out."

After 10 years, Harris says every American would be enrolled in a Medicare plan. "They will get insurance either through the new public Medicare plan or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurer within that system," she said.

Harris says she would raise taxes to pay for this plan, but she once again calls out Sanders' proposal by saying she would exempt households making below $100,000, whereas Sanders would tax households making more than $29,000. Though they won't share the same stage, don't be surprised to hear a rebuttal from Sanders during the first night of Democratic debates on July 30.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.