Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday announced California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Here’s where she stood on healthcare issues during her own presidential campaign.
It took months for Harris to clarify her position on healthcare in the primary battle, even as she criticized Biden for not going far enough on healthcare reform.
Harris was initially a co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All proposal that much of the healthcare industry opposes.
However, she eventually backed off of full-throated support of a single-payer system in favor of her own alternative that would preserve a role for privately run Medicare plans. Her change in position earned her criticism from progressives for backing off, and criticism from moderates that her plan was still too disruptive.
Harris proposed giving Americans the option to immediately buy in to a public Medicare program that would cover emergency department visits, doctor visits and vision, dental, hearing, mental health, reproductive care and substance abuse services. The plan would have been phased in over a 10-year period, and private companies would be allowed to offer strictly regulated alternative plans.
The dark-money spending group the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future wasn’t supportive of Harris’ plan and called it a “one-size-fits-all government-run system.” The group, which includes the American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America among others, has spent money across the country opposing state efforts to enact less ambitious public option proposals similar to the one Biden has championed.
Harris proposed allowing Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers on prices and conducting an audit to ensure drugmakers were not charging Americans more than residents of other countries.
On public health issues, Harris has also said she was open to removing barriers for undocumented immigrants to receive healthcare coverage and introduced legislation to address the maternal mortality crisis in the United States that disproportionately affects Black women.
The Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group Protect Our Care highlighted Harris’ statements criticizing President Donald Trump’s lawsuit that could eliminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, which Democrats across the country are making a centerpiece of their campaign strategy.