Harris's health plan would keep private insurance

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa Press: Another billionaire need not apply MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday unveiled details of a health plan on Monday that would seek to expand coverage while preserving a role for private insurance companies, which would be eliminated through the "Medicare for All" proposal backed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (I-Vt.).


"We will allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans as part of this system that adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits," the 2020 presidential candidate wrote in a Medium post published Monday detailing her plan.

Harris’s plan calls for transitioning to a Medicare for All system over a 10-year period. During that time, infants and the uninsured would automatically be placed into the system while other people would have the option to buy in to the government-backed health care plan.

The transition period in Harris’s plan is longer than the four-year plan laid out by Sanders.

"Medicare will set the rules of the road for these plans, including price and quality, and private insurance companies will play by those rules, not the other way around," wrote Harris.

The California senator is a co-sponsor of the Sanders Medicare for All bill and has gone back and forth on whether she would eliminate private insurance. 

In last month's Democratic debate, Harris raised her hand to signify that her health care plan would eliminate private insurance, but she said the next day she misunderstood the question. 

Harris has seen her poll numbers rise since the last Democratic debates and is seen as one of the top contenders for the nomination along with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (D-Mass.), another supporter of Medicare for All.

Health care has become a central issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The left flank of the party is pushing hard for candidates to back Medicare for All, which would transition the U.S. to a single-payer health care system run by the government. 

But it's become an easy target by moderate Democrats and Republicans who argue Medicare for All is too expensive and would eliminate the private insurance plans some polls show people like. 

Harris's plan also does not raise middle-class taxes, another difference from Sanders’s proposal.

Taxes would not increase for the middle class under Harris's plan, while Sanders would tax all households making more than $29,000 an additional 4 percent, a point the Vermont senator acknowledged during the first debate. Harris's proposal would not tax families making less than $100,000.

"This isn't about pursuing an ideology," Harris wrote in the Medium post. "This is about delivering for the American people."

Harris will surely be asked to provide further details on her plan this week during the second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit, as health care and Medicare for All were leading topics during the first debate.