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Kamala Harris’s Medicare for All Has a Private Option

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Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a Democratic presidential candidate , says her Medicare for All plan wouldn’t end private insurance. At least not right away.

“Medicare for All means that everyone will have access to health care and that cost will not be a barrier,” Harris told CNN in an interview aired today.

“As it relates to private insurance, there will still be supplemental insurance, but yeah, transitioning into Medicare for All will at some point reduce the requirement for insurance because everyone will have access to health care,” she said.

(Related: Democratic Candidate: ‘Public Option’ Plan Will Kill Private Health Insurance)

Harris has been accused of waffling on her health care plan, embracing Medicare for All but trying to find a narrow path between two competing constituencies in the Democratic Party.

On one side are progressives such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who embrace a Medicare for all system that would eliminate most private insurance. On the other side are moderates, including front-runner Joe Biden, seek to preserve Obamacare but would add on new government-run options in an effort to maximize consumer choice.

Harris said on CNN that private insurance would remain a “supplemental” option, under her plan. But that would eventually not be needed as there won’t be a need. She also said she doesn’t see a middle-class tax hike needed to fund her proposal, and she’d instead eye more targeted new revenue sources such as going after Wall Street.

Harris Is Doing Well in California

Harris’s support in California has surged, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Her performance has put her in a statistical tie with former Vice President Joe Biden among Democrats in her home state, according to the new poll.

The survey found 23% of those voters support Harris, while 21% backed Biden. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had 18% support, while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren received the backing of 16%. The poll had a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points.

But Harris’s support is far stronger than in an earlier Quinnipiac poll on April 10, two weeks before Biden announced his presidential bid. In that poll, Biden had 26% among California Democrats, while Sanders had 18% and Harris trailed in third place with 17%. Warren lagged with 7%. Biden also led Harris in a previous LA Times/Berkeley survey from June.

As a California senator, it’s crucial that Harris show strong support among home-state voters, but she has struggled to do so in the crowded Democratic field.

The poll of 519 Democrats and respondents leaning Democratic was conducted between July 10 and 15.

—With assistance from Terrence Dopp.

— Read Democrats Fret Over ‘Medicare for All’ Backlash, on ThinkAdvisor.

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