Kamala Harris Clarifies Position On Eliminating Private Health Insurance: "That's Not What I Meant!"


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris joined CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday for a wide-ranging interview about trade, impeachment, the Mueller report, gun control, health care, immigration, and more.

Tapper asked about her support for Medicare For All and her call in a January town hall on CNN that she supports "eliminating" the private health insurance industry.

"That's not what I meant!" Harris said.

"I support Medicare for all but I really do need to clear up what happened on that stage," she said. "It was in the context of saying let’s get rid of all the bureaucracy."

TAPPER: I want to ask you about something you said that night.

You said on stage with me in January that, when it comes to private insurance -- quote -- "Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on."


TAPPER: Now, you later said we don't need to get rid of all private insurance.


HARRIS: But let's clear that up. Wait. Jake, OK.

TAPPER: Which is -- which is it, exactly?

HARRIS: When we were together...


HARRIS: And you will remember -- and roll the tape, please.

TAPPER: Yes, we can roll the tape.

HARRIS: That...

TAPPER: Well, you support the Bernie Sanders bill, which essentially gets rid of insurance.

HARRIS: I support Medicare for all, but I really do need to clear up what happened on that stage.


HARRIS: It was in the context of saying, let's get rid of all the bureaucracy. Let's get all of the waste...

TAPPER: Oh, not the insurance companies?

HARRIS: No. That's not what I meant. I know it was interpreted that way.

If you watch the tape, I think you'll see that there are obviously many interpretations of what I said. What I meant is, let's get rid of the bureaucracy.

As it relates to Medicare...

TAPPER: But the bill gets rid of insurance.

HARRIS: But -- no, no, no, no, it does not get rid of insurance. It does not get rid of insurance.

And, listen -- and let me just tell you where I am. Let's tell you where I am.

TAPPER: OK. All right.

HARRIS: I support Medicare for all. It is my preferred policy.

TAPPER: As a principle, you mean, not Bernie Sanders' bill?

HARRIS: I support the bill.


HARRIS: I support the bill. I...

TAPPER: Well, because the bill gets rid of private insurance for everything that...

HARRIS: It doesn't get rid of supplemental insurance for...

TAPPER: Right, for cosmetic surgery, but for all...

HARRIS: So, it doesn't get rid of all insurance.

TAPPER: OK. It doesn't get rid of all insurance.

HARRIS: OK. Right.

TAPPER: ... but for all essential health care benefits.

HARRIS: But -- but why? Ask the question, why?

The question -- the answer to that question is because Medicare for all and the vision of what it will be includes an expansion of coverage. So, Medicare for all will include vision. It will include dental. It will include hearing aids.

TAPPER: There are a lot of members of unions, for example, who like their private insurance...

HARRIS: Right. Right.

TAPPER: ... and the plans that have been negotiated on their behalf and don't want that replaced.

HARRIS: Right.

Well, listen, let me just tell you something. I completely agree with those members of organized labor who have negotiated for plans and have, in those negotiation processes -- processes, often give enough what could have been higher wages in exchange for a higher coverage for health care.

TAPPER: Right.

HARRIS: And we have got to -- we have to address that. It's a legitimate concern which must be addressed.

TAPPER: The bill also says -- quote -- "Every individual who's a resident of the United States is entitled to benefits for health care services under the Senate," not every individual who's a citizen, but every individual who's a resident.

HARRIS: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: So you support giving universal health care and Medicare for all to people who are on this country illegally?

HARRIS: Let me just be very clear about this. I'm opposed to any policy that would deny in our country any human being from access to public safety, public education, or public health, period.

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