Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) came under a lot of heat during her CNN townhall when she said she wanted to eliminate private health insurance.

Despite the backlash she received for her comments, Harris’s press secretary Ian Sams attempted to clarify that she still believes in Medicare-for-All, which would also eliminate private insurance… political doublespeak at its finest.

Here are Harris’s original comments.

Harris received a lot of criticism for her stupid remark, but she is sticking with her belief that Medicare-for-All is the right solution for America:

“Medicare-for-all is the plan that she believes will solve the problem and get all Americans covered. Period,” Harris campaign national press secretary Ian Sams told Fox News.

“She has co-sponsored other pieces of legislation that she sees as a path to getting us there, but this is the plan she is running on,” he added, suggesting potential support for other options as well.

This morning, I saw this headline at CNN, which made me think maybe Harris backtracked a little.

Silly me! This is how CNN framed Sams’s clarification:

As the furor grew, a Harris adviser on Tuesday signaled that the candidate would also be open to the more moderate health reform plans, which would preserve the industry, being floated by other congressional Democrats. It represents a compromise position that risks angering “Medicare-for-all” proponents, who view eliminating private health insurance as key to enacting their comprehensive reform.

Both the adviser and Harris national press secretary Ian Sams said her willingness to consider alternate routes to a single payer system should not cast doubt on her commitment to the policy.

“Medicare-for-all is the plan that she believes will solve the problem and get all Americans covered. Period,” Sams told CNN. “She has co-sponsored other pieces of legislation that she sees as a path to getting us there, but this is the plan she is running on.”

Excuse me!? In other words, Harris still wants Medicare for All. She didn’t change her mind or flip-flop. She may have struck out the part of wanting to eliminate private health insurance companies, but she is willing to continue taking steps to implement Medicare for All. People love Medicare-for-All until you remind them that the private markets will no longer exist.

You cannot have the private market along with Medicare-for-All:

Harris, it seems, is not quite there anymore either; or if she is, she is also somewhere else. Last night, she gently moderated her position, with a spokesperson telling CNN that she is open to other policy paths, although she continues to support a single-payer plan that would end private health insurance as well.

It is not exactly a walkback, but it is a tacit acknowledgment of the resistance to her initial remarks. She continues to support a plan that would make today’s private health insurance plans illegal while forcing most everyone onto a government-run insurance system. But she supports alternatives as well, presumably ideas like creating a government-run insurance plan that would be sold alongside private plans, or allowing more people to buy into the existing Medicare system, or something like it.

In other words, she also supports plans that are not full-fledged single-payer, the entire point of which is to replace all existing insurance with, yes, a single government-run health coverage plan.

Even Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) sees problems with it:

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s second-ranked Democrat, expressed some concern Tuesday over the prospect of wiping out private health insurers.

“I don’t want to guess what (Harris is) thinking but that is a massive part of the American economy. There is a system in place for funding it,” Durbin said. “It would take a mighty transition to move from where we are to that.”

Yeah, as someone with numerous pre-existing conditions, I want my private health insurance.

The declaration in the townhall doesn’t seem to have harmed Harris in the polls. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found Harris in third place, gaining numbers since she announced her presidential candidacy. She is at 10%, up from the 3% she had earlier in January. She still lags behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).


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