Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris just introduced the healthcare plan she intends to implement if she wins in 2020. Although called “Medicare for All,” the California Senator distinguishes her plan from similarly-named ones (like Bernie Sander’s) as a more gradual and moderate alternative. Harris’ program would take a decade to be fully implemented, which has led some critics to point out that it could easily be nipped in the bud if conservatives were to take over either Congress or the presidency. Harris argues that the long period will allow a smooth, easy transition for those Americans who are wary of drastic shifts to the current system. Additionally, Harris’ proposed program doesn’t completely abolish private health insurance. Instead, it allows for strictly regulated private insurance groups to compete with the guaranteed public system, in addition to offering added benefits that the public system doesn’t provide.
However, like any other program which guarantees health insurance for all, there’s still plenty to worry about, despite the “moderate” packaging: first, Harris hasn’t said who’s going to pay for a program as extensive as hers. She vows that no family with an income below $100,000 will cover a penny, but the practicality of such a claim is questionable at best. Her alternative is, predictably, to have the wealthiest of all cover the additional costs through increased taxes. Second, although the current healthcare system has a myriad of problems, and the implementation of a single-payer system may solve some of them, it will probably cause more problems than it solves. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and all the other progressive democrats can say what they want about universal, theoretically affordable healthcare, but they can’t guarantee quality. Only the competition found in a private system provides an incentive not just to go into the medical field, but to excel in it. Research and innovation can only thrive when it is free to do so. Harris does leave some room for private systems, but not enough – the fact that her program is less extreme than Bernie Sander’s doesn’t mean it isn’t extreme. Finally, when health insurance is guaranteed to all, people will begin to think they’re entitled to it – that it’s a right. That’s a dangerous road to go down because medical professionals will be forced to provide services in violation of their rights to demand to pay for their labor. Going along with the second point, this will drive down the incentive to go into the medical field at all. Although Harris’ proposed program may sound more moderate than similar plans, it still has the same core issues as any Medicare-for-all program, and that should worry conservative and moderate Americans.
Ruth Moreno is a contributor to TheRichValdes.com