Harris’ Health Plan

Harris’ Health Plan




Senator Kamala Harris has outlined her own health plan for all Americans. Like Senator Bernie Sanders, she covers everyone. Like Senator Sanders she offers comprehensive benefits. Like Senator Sanders, she eliminates copays and deductibles and premiums.


She departs from Senator Sanders on three issues: the role of private insurance, the financing and the length of transition. Under Harris’s plan, private insurance would be available as one of the choices available to every American. This is very comparable to Medicare Advantage plans, which about 40% of California seniors and the disabled now choose. This approach may be more palatable to Californians and others who now have and enjoy their private insurance coverage. However their coverage would change – no copays, no deductibles, no balance billing or surprise medical bills from providers, and expanded coverage for dental, long term care and vision would be included, and there is no role (other than financing) for employers.


Harris’ plan would include a 4% tax surcharge to help pay for health insurance. Unlike Senator Sanders, the surcharge would only apply to incomes in excess of $100,000 (the Sanders Plan applies to incomes in excess of $29,000). To make up the shortfall, she would tax the sales of stocks, bonds and derivatives -- stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002% Read more at https://kamalaharris.org/healthcare/#RDyxUDbAOuUZeHMt.99 This is more affordable for the middle class; however it makes the same mistake, in my opinion, as the Sanders plan – it pays for lots of existing private health expenditures that are already in the system, and thus costs far more in increased public taxes to replace them than, for example, the Biden plan does, which builds on the existing systems of public and private financing coverage and care.


The Harris plan has a ten-year transition and glide path to Medicare for All. For the changes of this magnitude, that is far better than the four-year transition under the Sanders Plan. However, as compared to the Biden plan, which builds on the existing system, the path to universal coverage is far longer.

Commentary: It does not appear to have any new innovative approaches to controlling America’s unconscionably high health costs or improving our poor health outcomes than any of the other measures. While it may be more attractive to American voters than the Sanders plan would be, it needs to more seriously address the deficits in the quality and cost of care that plague the American health care system. It should be substantially more palatable to the medical industry’s lobbies, but likely will not be due to their knee jerk antipathy for Medicare for All.


References: Medicare for All Plans, Biden Plan, Hybrid Plan and Public Option Plan at www.luciensblog.com  


Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin

Dated: 7/29/19

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