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Kamala Harris Unveils Health Care Plan: Medicare for All With Private Insurance Companies

Kamala Harris Unveils Health Care Plan: Medicare for All With Private Insurance Companies

Trying to appease the far-left and moderate Democrats?

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) unveiled a health care plan just days before the second Democratic primary debate.

Harris outlined her plan on the Medium platform. Her idea involves Medicare for All, but also keep private insurance companies.

The Plan

For some reason, presidential candidates think as soon as they take office, they can snap their fingers and deliver on all their campaign promises.

Second, it looks like Harris has tried to appease both sides by going all-in for Medicare for All while allowing people to keep their private insurance. Aw, isn’t that sweet? Harris would enable me to keep my insurance.

Anyway, Harris wrote that her plan would grant people the ability to access Medicare. She believes her program “will lower costs and give us a baseline plan as we transition to Medicare for All.” Despite this promise, the plan will provide all the benefits:

Under my Medicare for All plan, we will also expand the program to include other benefits Americans desperately need that will save money in the long run–for instance, an expanded mental health program including telehealth and easier access to early diagnosis and treatment, and innovative patient navigator programs to help people identify the right doctor and understand how to navigate the health system. It will provide a serious auditing of prescription drug costs to ensure Americans aren’t paying more for their prescription drugs than other comparable countries; a comprehensive maternal & child health program to dramatically reduce deaths, particularly among women and infants of color; and meaningful rural health care reforms, such as increasing residency slots for rural areas with workforce shortages and expanding loan forgiveness for rural health care professionals, to promote high-quality access to people regardless of their zip code.

Harris repeated the same Obama promise: Yes, you can keep your doctor since “91% of eligible doctors participate in the Medicare program today.

Then Harris’s administration “will set up an extended Medicare system, with a 10-year phase-in period.” They will enroll in newborns automatically and the uninsured. The time period will allow enough time for doctors to get into the new system and those on Medicaid or using Obamacare to transition to her program. So private insurance companies can offer private Medicare options, but only if those options received certification from the Medicare program.

Harris’s administration will provide an opportunity for private insurance companies to offer Medicare plans. They must “adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits.”

I find it precious that Harris wrote, “Health care is personal to people, and we should make sure we get it right.”

Okay…how about you leave me alone and let me handle my health care? Oh, wait. Harris declared that the government “can’t afford NOT to change the system.”

How Do We Pay For This?

This portion of Harris’s blog scares me (emphasis mine):

By extending the phase-in period to ten years, we will decrease the overall cost of the program compared to the Sanders proposal, and we can save additional money by accelerating delivery system reforms and value-based care that rewards meaningful outcomes. More than 200 economists have said we will dramatically save money over the long run if we expand the Medicare program to include everyone and limit profits for drug companies and insurance companies.

Harris wants the government to limit profits to private businesses. How do I economics?

Money does not grow on trees. How will Harris pay for this plan? WALL STREET, of course:

To pay for this specific change, I would tax Wall Street stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%. Think of it like this: that’s a $2 fee on a $1,000 trade by investors and big banks. I would also end foreign tax shelters by taxing offshore corporate income at the same rate as domestic corporate income. Together, these proposals would raise well over $2 trillion over ten years, more than enough to make up the difference from raising the middle-class income threshold.

These are the only details Harris provides. Then again, I don’t know how she can offer more specifics because no one honestly knows how much it will cost.

Harris declared her “plan will reduce our country’s health care costs and lower Americans’ out-of-pocket costs, all while extending health insurance coverage to every American.”

I want to know how it will reduce health care costs because private insurance companies will have to raise prices to offer Medicare plans. This is not difficult. You want to limit the profits of these companies, but they have to make a profit to provide a product. Why do so many people think the medical sector is exempt from basic economics?

We have detailed the effect of Obamacare on private insurance companies. My costs went up, which led me to choose a plan with a high deductible.

Someone also needs to inform Harris that she cannot just do this. I guess she can pass an executive order that she hates so much when President Donald Trump chooses that route.


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And that’ll last how long? The government plan will be subsidized and the private plans will find it difficult to compete. Before long, it’ll be government alone.

    LibraryGryffon in reply to venril. | July 29, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Which is the whole point of the exercise.

    MJN1957 in reply to venril. | July 29, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Yes, to a point…

    …but the way the Government reels-in the Insurance companies is that – at least at first – the Government will need Big Insurance to manage the government plan(s).

    It will work like “self-insured” companies work now…Government will set the coverage plans, Big Insurance will bid on administering the Government plans state-by-state. Government will select the Big Insurance Companies they will contract with to administer the Government mandated plans in each state.

    Big Insurance will insist upon having their management fees paid directly, but they will also insist upon having “performance guarantees” built-in where they get a significant percentage of any operating cost savings (while avoiding penalties for going over budget).

    As always, there will be incentives for Big Insurance to provide significant monetary discounts and/or preferences to politically preferred groups, while maintaining or increasing costs for politically un-preferred groups.

2smartforlibs | July 29, 2019 at 1:46 pm

OMG, what a plan it’s what we already have.

“limit profits for drug companies and insurance companies”

And when the drug companies stop researching and introducing new drugs and the insurance companies stop covering high risk populations it will be caused by RAAAAACCCCIIIIIIISMMMM!!!!!

So, it’s progressive prices, shared responsibility, and persistent causes, while treating symptoms. Perhaps that’s the most unfortunate, yet viable plan that can be conceived and realized.

amatuerwrangler | July 29, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Harris, along with most who want to “improve” health care, ignore the elephant in the room: health care requires doctors.

It has been over 10 years since I transitioned from private insurance to Medicare, as required by law. Five years before that, my doctor told me he was retiring in the next few years and I should start looking for a replacement. He said the advanced warning was given because it would be difficult to find a doctor who would take a new patient who was on the cusp of “going Medicare”. He turned out to be right.

I finally leveraged into a practice through 3rd party influences. I came to learn that most medical practices (non-specialists) can only survive if they keep their Medicare and Medic-aide (Medi-Cal, here in Cali) at 25% or below of their patients. The payments from Medicare will not support a practice. This has nothing to do with prescriptions; that is a separate issue.

Why would anyone otherwise qualified go through the educational grinder of medical school to end up trying to eke out a living with a ton of school debt hanging over them. They would do better as veterinarians… or any stripe of engineer. You can have all the insurance coverage in the world, but you need a doctor to turn that coverage into care.

    artichoke in reply to amatuerwrangler. | July 29, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    No wonder my doctor’s practice was about to drop me for missing a single appointment. They’re still looking for an excuse even though I haven’t done that again. I am getting to Medicare age.

BerettaTomcat | July 29, 2019 at 2:32 pm

I realize Zerocare was just a first step, but it was so badly bungled doubling down on health care reform as an election strategy seems less than likely to be a winner.

The time period will allow enough time for doctors to get into the new system

Well, that’s thoughtful—it will also allow enough time for them to get out of this . . . what, “ObamaCare Lite”?

Harris declared her “plan will reduce our country’s health care costs and lower Americans’ out-of-pocket costs, all while extending health insurance coverage to every American.”

Right, ObamaCare’s Night of the Healthy Dead—Part 2, The Revenge.

Albigensian | July 29, 2019 at 2:43 pm

“most medical practices (non-specialists) can only survive if they keep their Medicare and Medic-aide (Medi-Cal, here in Cali) at 25% or below of their patients.”

And it’s even worse for hospitals, as these have much higher fixed costs.

Which is why “Medicare for all” can only be a Big Lie: there’s just no way to pay for all the medical services people now receive in a world in which everyone pays Medicare rates.

Nor is there any way for private insurers to compete with Medicare for All unless (as is the case with today’s Medicare Advantage Plans) private insurers will have the right to demand that they, too, pay no more than Medicare does.

Unfortunately explaining that to the electorate is far more difficult than just promising “You can have what you want, and be assured that ‘someone’ will pay for it.”

    healthguyfsu in reply to Albigensian. | July 29, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Yep, 91% of doctors take a small percentage of medicare and medicaid patients.

    It is untenable to expand this to all. Most practices operate under a loss for their obligatory, begrudging medicare loads and use the rest to subsidize this hell hole and turn profits.

    In other words, we are already subsidizing medicare and medicaid twice, both in taxation and in our rising health care costs (that Dems facilitate then complain about).

Cant have private insurance – since insurance companies make bigger profits by denying coverage. (sarc)

Progressives seem unable to comprehend the supply and demand curves. The primary source of revenue for private insurance is through employer sponsored plans. If the insurance companies denied coverage, the employers would switch insurance companies creating a huge drop in revenue and huge drop in market share. Not exactly the way to maximize profits.

Combine the bureaucracy of government with the bureaucracy of huge insurance companies. Brilliant!

So, how much money are the automatics going to be paying to access medicare? I recall paying in every payday for years.

Yes, as has been pointed out before, “Medicare for all” will equilibrate at “medical care for none” because Medicare reimbursement rates are just too low to support the industry. And nothing in Harris’s “plan” seems to address that. Of course government could address the problem by making Medicare payments more generous . . . much more generous. At a guess, about twice what it pays now might do the trick, at least for a while. But then the rosy cost savings estimates go all to hell.

“economists have said we will dramatically save money over the long run”

And when have economists ever been right? I’ve had a lifetime of being told that someone’s bright idea will save me money. It’s never happened. Wanna save us money? Stop with the big complex grandiose ideas.

    murkyv in reply to PODKen. | July 29, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    The last time Democrats “saved me money” on my health insurance, my premiums quadrupled

    oldgoat36 in reply to PODKen. | July 29, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Economists said Obamacare would save us money, so did Obama. It didn’t.

    Every single time these politicians come in to “fix” something it costs us more for less received.

    There were some issues with healthcare when Hillary started meddling with it, now those have grown to epic proportions. They never go to tweak something that has a small number of people being badly affected, they always go for big changes which screws it up for everyone. Just like socialism and communism. I swear their goals seem to be make everyone equal… in misery.

200 economists, I know the names of at least 2 of them:

James Tobin, who pushed the idea of the “Tobin Tax”, taxing financial transactions to pay for … whatever.

Jonathan Gruber, the economist behind Obamacare. He’s the expert on forced coverage and forced participation. He also had the bright idea that Obamacare should have basically only one type of insurance policy. That prevents one from disaggregating the costs of different parts of it … like the super-expensive HIV coverage that it was designed to rope everyone in to support.

I just can’t take this dumbass seriously. She’s panderiffic! Just yesterday she was promising to forgive Pell Grants. What a maroon.

    artichoke in reply to Paul. | July 29, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    No as I said in that thread, she wasn’t going to give the (small) Pell grants. She was going to forgive the (much larger) school loans — but only for students who had had Pell grants.

It’s a good thing that the Dems also want open borders, since the U.S. will need thousands of second- and third-world doctors to meet the demand for ‘Medicare for All’ physicians. I suspect it won’t be long before most excellent doctors flock into concierge systems of cash-only medical care for those able to purchase it. Quality isn’t cheap.

    artichoke in reply to RNJD. | July 29, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Yes I saw a special program about that a few months ago on C-SPAN. These programs can be quite affordable, they can include tele-medicine, they really seem promising.

    Bypass all the insurance rules, where the insurance company is not allowed to just sell you a policy that’s just what you need at slightly more than it’s expected to cost them. Make a new market where just that sort of transaction can be done, and don’t call it “insurance”.

Close The Fed | July 29, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Back with the power-hungry set. The left’s ravenous appetite for power over us… where does that come from?

Let’s be frank, shall we? Making medical insurance as an employee benefit non-taxed started this whole problem of people’s unrealistic appetite for insurance to pay for EVERYTHING. And the employers have humored this desire.

My plan:
Remove the tax break for medical insurance as a benefit.
Without the tax break, many employers will evolve to offering it merely as an option and the employees will shop around. It will also free many people from staying at jobs (!) just because of the medical insurance.

Next, give everyone a tax break for medical insurance. Premiums 100% deductible. Amounts paid for co-pays and deductibles 100% tax deductible.

Next, eliminate barriers to insurers crossing state lines.

Next, get the hell out of the way!

    oldgoat36 in reply to Close The Fed. | July 29, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Companies have been making the workers pay more and more for coverage for a long time now. You are given a choice on the amount of coverage you want to pay for. Yet is all comes out of your salary. Without benefits your pay would be higher. If your plan went into effect, I guarantee you your pay wouldn’t go up. So you are out of employee healthcare coverage, and will have to pay more.

    Henry Ford first started benefits to workers, this was to attract better workers, as there were more applying for the jobs. Jobs that offer to keep your out of pocket costs lower, give you good coverage are generally the type of places you want to work for.

    A benefit of working for a large company is buying power, larger companies can give better benefits because they have large group discounts. You lose all that. Sure, small places benefit, but the insured, not so much.

    I’m all for allowing across state lines, but big companies do this already, or are self insured with a company hired to manage the costs.

    I rather do away with government healthcare, with allowances by the government taxpayer money going to private companies.

Dear Lord. This woman, when she is not spreading herself for political gain, she is pandering to big companies to make them think they won’t be run out of business with her stupid plan.

If the insurance companies think this could work, well, then they deserve to be run out of business. This is a soft means of government take over of their industry. And of course we will have less people going into medicine as their paid gets cut.

I think she is even less intelligent than Obama was, and that is saying something. Obama couldn’t govern without his puppet master Jarrett. She is even worse.

TrickyRicky | July 29, 2019 at 6:50 pm

“Harris wants the government to limit profits to private businesses.”

Sounds a lot like the government’s demand for Hank Rearden to produce his metal for no profit and to enable his competitors to enjoy his invention.

Who is John Galt?

    oldgoat36 in reply to TrickyRicky. | July 29, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I sometimes believe that the left read 1984 and Ayn Rand’s books and took the worst parts of them as blueprints for their way to govern.

      artichoke in reply to oldgoat36. | July 29, 2019 at 10:08 pm

      It’s almost that, but the leftists had the ideas first, and those authors just wrote them up for popular consumption.

      Maybe they were like me, grew up in a leftist environment so we’ve heard it all before.

The only idea that kamala harris ever had that worked, was the idea of regularly getting on her knees to service willie brown. It’s the ONLY reason anyone’s ever heard of her.

Either she’s really good at it, or willie brown isn’t that picky.

Bernard Madoff, Free Trade and Medicare for All.

Any time a Democrat tells us, “You’ll save money” it’s the Big BOHICA…

Whatever happened to the barrels of warm tar, large hessian bags of feathers, and six foot pine poles to ride ’em out of town?

“By extending the phase-in period to ten years, we will decrease the overall cost of the program compared to the Sanders proposal, and we can save additional money by accelerating delivery system reforms and value-based care that rewards meaningful outcomes. More than 200 economists have said we will dramatically save money over the long run if we expand the Medicare program to include everyone and limit profits for drug companies and insurance companies.”

Spoken like a true snake oil salesman. Not a single fact to back up a claim pulled from thin air.