Kamala Harris on Private Health Insurance Market: "Eliminate All Of That," "Let's Move On"

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Senator Kamala Harris advocated the elimination of the "inhumane" private health insurance industry during a CNN town hall event in Iowa Monday night.

“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 question about healthcare affordability. “That’s just the bottom line.”

“So for people out there who like their insurance, they don’t get to keep it?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked.





“Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require,” she said.

“Who of us has not had that situation where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this. Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on," Harris explained.

TAPPER: Let's turn to health care. I want to bring in Renee Welk, who lives here in Des Moines. She and her husband are both self- employed, and they've had a lot of trouble finding affordable health insurance. Renee?

QUESTION: Thank you so much. What is your solution to ensure that people have access to quality health care at an affordable price? And does that solution involve cutting insurance companies as we know them out of the equation?

HARRIS: I believe the solution -- and I actually feel very strongly about this -- is that we need to have Medicare for all. That's just the bottom line.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'll say this. And this is, I think, why you're also asking this question. What we know is that, to live in a civil society, to be true to the ideals and the spirit of who we say we are as a country, we have to appreciate and understand that access to health care is a -- should not be thought of as a privilege. It should be understood to be a right.

It should be understood to be something that all people should be entitled to, so that they can live a productive life, so they can have dignity. And having a system that makes a difference in terms of who receives what based on your income is unconscionable, it is cruel, and in many situations that I have witnessed, inhumane. I have talked about my personal experience of my mother, who passed

away many years ago, and going through the health care system with her. And she had -- she had the benefit of having Medicare, but not everybody does.

And it is inhumane. It is inhumane to make people go through a system where they cannot literally receive the benefit of what medical science can offer because some insurance company has decided it doesn't meet their bottom line in terms of their profit motivation. That is inhumane.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: So just to follow up -- so just to follow up on that, and correct me if I'm wrong, to reiterate, you support the Medicare for all bill, I think...

HARRIS: Correct.

TAPPER: ... initially co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders. You're also a co-sponsor onto it. I believe it will totally eliminate private insurance. So for people out there who like their insurance, they don't get to keep it?

HARRIS: Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation, where you've got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.

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