In a CNN town hall on Monday night, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris stated that she’d be supportive of ending private insurance companies completely.
“I believe the solution, and I actually feel very strongly about this, is that we need to have Medicare for all,” Harris said in response to an audience member’s question about health care. “That’s just the bottom line.”
Since she made the comments, a number of her fellow Democrats have come out to say that they disagree.
“It would take a mighty transition to move from where we are to that,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “What most of us said we would support is a Medicare-type plan — a not-for-profit public plan that is available for everyone. I think that’s a good first step.”
“I’m not going to say you have to give it up,” Senator Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, said of private insurance. “I think the idea is to offer a nonprofit insurance plan as an option.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein echoed these sentiments, saying that when it comes to doing away with private health insurance, she’s “not there.”
Make no mistake: Any Democratic politician who is opposed to Harris’s suggestion that we completely eliminate all private insurance companies has an absolute right to be concerned from a political perspective.
This isn’t just my opinion, either. The numbers back this up. An industry survey from last year found that 71 percent of Americans who have employer-sponsored plans are “satisfied” with those plans — and Medicare for all would force them to give those plans up. What’s more, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey from just last week found that only 37 percent of people supported Medicare for all once they were informed that implementing it would result in the end of private insurance.
Talk about ditching private health insurance may be the kind of thing that does well in super-liberal circles, and being super liberal may seem to be the kind of thing that gets you a decent cult following and a lot of media coverage (think Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) but the truth is, for a lot of Americans, the thought of making our system into a socialized one is still scary. The idea of having to give up their current plan is one that most Americans just aren’t going to support — and Democrats would be wise to take this into account when drafting their policy proposals for 2020. If they don’t do this, if they do give in to the temptation to go too far to the left, then that could easily be what hands the next election to the incumbent.