Harris: 'Medicare for all' is not socialism

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday defended her support for “Medicare for all,” saying it is not a socialist idea.

"No, no. It’s about providing health care to all people," Harris said in an interview with NBC News's Kasie Hunt after being asked if what she supported was socialism.


Harris, a progressive Democratic presidential candidate who has embraced Medicare for all, told NBC that rising costs are making health care unaffordable. She said she wants to provide universal access to health care.

"It’s about understanding that access to affordable health care should not be a privilege, it should be a right. It’s about understanding that in a democracy, and the way we have constructed our democracy, we at least in concept have said that your access to public education, public health or public safety should not be a function of how much money you have,” Harris said.

Harris's comments came a day after she told reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire that she is "not a democratic socialist," a term used by several progressive politicians to describe themselves including most notable Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (I-Vt.), who announced his own White House bid Tuesday.

Last month, Harris garnered headlines when she told a CNN town hall she wants to eliminate private insurance in an effort to move fully toward Medicare for all.

Republicans have pounced on the claim, warning that if single-payer passes, people will not be able to keep their private plans.

A Harris adviser later signaled that she would be open to more moderate plans to reform health care.

Medicare for all has become a sort of progressive litmus test among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, and is a marker of where many Democrats are pushing for their party and the country to go.

In Congress, the party is wrestling over a variety of proposals, and Harris herself has co-sponsored various Medicare for all-type bills, including a Medicare buy-in.