Kamala Harris as VP Pick: Her Impact on Health Care Policy & Insurance

Every day we witness history. This week, Joe Biden made a historic choice for his running mate. According to CNN, Kamala Harris is only the third woman to ever be selected as a Vice Presidential candidate on a major party ticket. She follows in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin. Of course, Kamala’s circumstances are quite different. Times have undoubtedly changed. And Kamala is the first African American and South Asian woman to be on a ticket.

Kamala’s Run for Presidency

Kamala Harris announced her candidacy for presidency back at the beginning of 2019. Kamala became a rising star in the Democratic party. Even before she was elected as a Senator in California, people compared her to Barack Obama. She gained widespread support. However, she was ultimately plagued by an expensive and, many thought, mismanaged campaign.

Kamala Harris drew criticism for her record and policies as California’s Attorney General. Many felt that her actions were inconsistent with the progressive values that she claimed to hold. Of course, developing and putting out a clear message as a Democratic candidate was not easy this year. As an article in the New York Times acknowledges, “health care policy and the identity of the Democratic Party became much-debated issues this year”. The candidates were all vying to show that they would make the best changes to health care policy. Voters found the variety of stances somewhat confusing and weren’t quite sure where candidates stood.

Kamala Harris and Health Insurance

With Kamala, it seemed challenging to pin down her exact position on health care policy. Essentially, Kamala’s comments on health insurance policy had many people believing she had “flip-flopped”. It was unclear whether or not she was in support of a “Medicare for All” plan. During her work in the Senate, Kamala Harris co-sponsored the legislation from Senator Bernie Sanders which would have created just that. As the New York Times reports, she took heat for a comment she made at a town hall event early in her campaign. Someone asked Kamala Harris about private health insurance. She responded, “Let’s eliminate all of that”. Naturally, this brought up sensitivity around getting rid of private health insurance coverage.

Kamala Harris’s Stance on Health Care Policy

During a Democratic primary debate, moderators asked all of the candidates if they would eliminate private health insurance. Kamala Harris raised her hand, seemingly indicating that she would. Afterward, however, she explained that she had misunderstood the question. Joe Biden was one of the candidates who did not raise his hand. Clearly, his Vice Presidency under Barack Obama has shaped his health care policy. He is in favor of building off of the Affordable Care Act.

Kamala Harris eventually released her own plan, which was somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Her idea is to create Medicare for All, but there would also be allowances for private health insurance companies to exist. Based on the New York Times, consumers would be allowed to choose “private plans modeled on Medicare Advantage”.

What Does This Mean for Health Care Policy?

If Joe Biden wins the 2020 election, we can expect to see changes to health care policy. It seems that he has a rather moderate vision, working with the foundation laid under President Obama. From what he has said, he supports the continued existence of private insurance. Kamala Harris has not been as clear on where she stands, but now says she would support that as well. And, of course, her stance on health care policy could change once again. Thus, should something happen that moves Kamala Harris into the position of President, it is not clear what we would expect.

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