Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is holding steadfast in her belief that her version of “Medicare for All” is indeed “the best,” as she said during an August forum.
But, the presidential hopeful’s unwavering defense of her self-drafted health care plan didn’t deter progressive activist, lawyer and author Ady Barkan from pointing out what he found to be glaring flaws in her proposal.
In a nine-minute video capturing his discussion (below) with Harris released on Monday, Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, took Harris to task when he asked her why she was using the phrase “Medicare for All” to describe her plan, when to him, it sounded more like something “closer to a combination of private and public options rather than a single-payer ‘Medicare For All.’”
Unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) single-payer bill that Harris had previously supported, the California senator’s proposal would give Americans the option of keeping their private health insurance plans. Harris’ plan also includes a 10-year transitory period to phase out privatized insurance, which critics say is too long.
In response, Harris explained that with her plan, “everybody will be covered … and it will be a Medicare system” in which private insurers “have to be in our system … and it will be by our rules.”
That’s when Barkan decided to share why he thinks Sanders’ single-payer bill — which senators and presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also support — is the best approach for reforming the country’s health care system.
Under Harris’ plan, Barkan said, “millions of people like me will still be denied care by their for-profit insurance company” during the 10-year transition period and possibly afterwards. Because of this, Barkan said he believes that people “will avoid getting needed care because of high co-pays and deductibles.”
In his opinion, Sanders’ single-payer plan would drive down “billions of dollars per year in administrative and billing costs,” which are a result of the for-profit system.
“That will not happen if providers still have to bill numerous insurance companies,” he added.
“Finally, there is the political reality,” Barkan concluded. “The insurance industry is going to do everything it can to block any of these proposals, including yours, which means the only way to win is with a huge grassroots movement, and from what I can see, that enthusiasm only exists for ‘Medicare for All.’ So, where am I wrong?”
In response, Harris said that with her “Medicare for All” plan, on Day 1, “you can get into the system of ‘Medicare for All’ and have a public plan, you don’t have to do a private plan. It’s your choice.”
Harris’ answer echoed what she has said in the past of her plan, but many people on Twitter still seemed to enjoy watching Barkan make compelling arguments about what he considered to be holes in her bill.
Barkan also questioned Harris’ 10-year transition period, which he pointed out would span “the course of at least two different presidencies” and would give Republicans “many opportunities to block it.”
To see her response, check out the video above.
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