California Sen. Kamala Harris seemingly walked back her support for eliminating the entire private health insurance market in lieu of a government-run plan for a second time since announcing her presidency.
Harris clarified her position Friday and contended she misinterpreted a question during the prior night’s Democratic presidential debate when NBC’s Lester Holt asked candidates “who here would abolish their health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?”
“No, no I do not. But the question was ‘would you give up your private insurance for that option?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’” Harris explained on “Morning Joe.” The California senator acknowledged she “probably” heard the question differently than her opponents because she interpreted it to mean her own health insurance plan.
“I am a proponent of ‘Medicare for All,’” she continued before adding that under her health insurance proposal, private insurance “will exist for supplemental coverage.”
The gaffe comes months after Harris faced backlash for stating she feels “very strongly” about fully embracing the single-payer health insurance system, which would overhaul the entire American health care market.
“Listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require — who of us has not had that situation where you’ve gotta wait for approval? And the doctor says, ‘Well, I don’t know if your insurance company’s gonna cover this?’” Harris said in January during a CNN town hall. “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
Harris later walked back her statements and said her policy is more nuanced than she illustrated during the town hall. She clarified she wants a pathway to single-payer, but believes private health insurance should continued to cover people in the interim, which her campaign referred to as “Medicare for more.”
“I want a burrito. I’d accept tacos in the meantime,” Harris’s communication director, Chris Harris, tweeted in response to the criticism. “But I want a burrito.”