Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said her health care proposal would eliminate private employer-based health insurance coverage.
Currently, about 180 million Americans get health care coverage through their employer. Individuals not covered by Medicare or Medicaid are able to purchase individual plans on the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has proposed a public-option health care plan, criticized Harris’ proposal.
“The plan, no matter how you cut it, costs $3 trillion when it is, in fact, employed, number one. Ten years from now, after two terms of the senator being president, after her time. Secondly, it will require middle-class taxes to go up, not down. Thirdly, it will eliminate employer-based insurance,” he said during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night.
“I’d like to respond. First of all, the cost of doing nothing is far too expensive,” replied Harris, a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the Senate. “Second, we are now paying $3 trillion a year for health care in America. Over the next 10 years, it’s probably going to be $6 trillion. We must act. My plan is about immediately allowing people to sign up and get into coverage.”
Harris continued, “Right now in America, we have seniors, who, every day — millions of seniors are going into the Medicare system and they are getting full coverage and the kind of coverage they need. All people should have access to health care and costs should not be their barrier.”
Currently, some senior citizens on Medicare have to purchase supplemental private insurance to cover health care costs that Medicare does not cover.
Following the debate, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Harris if everyone with private insurance through their employer would lose their coverage under her plan and Harris said “yes.” She explained that she wants to separate health insurance benefits from the workplace.