Harris's health plan would keep private insurance

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHouse to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development 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 SandersPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Prominent Texas Latina endorses Warren Bloomberg campaign: Vandalism at Tennessee office 'echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters' 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 BidenPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Bloomberg campaign: Vandalism at Tennessee office 'echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters' Democratic strategist says Biden 'has to' get second place in Nevada MORE, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Bloomberg unveils billboards to troll Trump ahead of campaign stops John Legend joining Warren in South Carolina next week: report 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.