Kamala Harris’ health care heresy
This week Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) released her long-awaited health care plan. Like most proposals from Harris, who is running for president, her plan to address America’s health care woes is full of hyperbole and void of detail.
Harris unveiled her health care blueprint via an essay on Medium.com titled, “My Plan For Medicare For All.” Harris’ plan should be read with a keen sense of skepticism. Harris has a long history of vacillating (also known as flip-flopping) when it comes to crucial health care matters.
For instance, in a January CNN town hall event, Harris declared her unwavering support of “Medicare for All” and the elimination of private insurance.
“I believe the solution—and I actually feel very strongly about this—is that we need to have Medicare for all,” Harris said. “That’s just the bottom line.”
Harris was later pressed about her stance on whether Americans should be allowed to purchase (private) health insurance outside of the scope of government.
“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 stated. “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
Harris is right. The “process” of using an insurance company can be time-consuming and frustrating. However, the “process” of interacting with government is usually downright excruciating, akin to torture. Just think of your last visit to the DMV or the last time you filed your taxes. Harris’ suggestion that government is more responsive, efficient and less prone to mountains of perplexing paperwork than the private sector is laughable on its face.
Since the January town hall, Harris has hemmed and hawed on her health care position (and many other important policy matters) more than a bride-to-be choosing a wedding dress. Nevertheless, this is far from unheard of in a typical political campaign season. What’s really worrying is what Harris plans to do to the U.S. health care system if she becomes president in 2020.
Harris’ “Medicare for All” plan includes three main tenets. First, her plan would cover “all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services.” Yes, you read that right—Harris wants to radically expand a program that is already well on its way to bankruptcy.
Second, she points out, “Under my Medicare for All plan, we will also expand the program to include other benefits Americans desperately need that will save money in the long run.” Such benefits would include an expanded mental health program and other services. Apparently, Harris wants Americans to believe that expanding benefits will reduce costs. Does she not understand the basic law of supply and demand?
Third, Harris writes that her plan would implement price controls to “ensure pharmaceutical companies are not charging more than other comparable countries,” create a comprehensive maternity program to “dramatically reduce deaths among women and infants of color” and issue sweeping reforms for rural areas to “promote high-quality access for people regardless of their zip code.” Once again, because the government is so effective at everything it does, of course we should give bureaucrats substantially more control over virtually all domains of health care.
In other words, Obamacare has been a total travesty – it has not lowered costs at all – so let’s double down on government-run health care!
If you choose not to participate in Harris’ grand government vision, don’t worry. According to Harris, “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. If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system. If not, they have to get out.”
And here is where Harris comes full circle: Instead of outright calling for the elimination of private insurance, as she clumsily did back in January, Harris now employs government-speak to muddle her message. In short, she would “allow” private insurance as long as they meet government-determined criteria.
Harris, like most of her fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, seems to believe she knows best when it comes to any and all health care decisions. In other words, Harris does not think ordinary Americans are smart enough to make their own health care choices. Therefore, all Americans should simply accept and obey the edicts of government experts, under the auspice of a one-size-fits-all behemoth.
When it comes to vital decisions over health care, according to Harris, we should trust government bureaucrats to determine what is best for more than 300 million Americans. After all, how silly is it to think that Americans (and their doctors) could make better choices about their health care needs and desires than government officials?
Chris Talgo is an editor at The Heartland Institute.