Kamala Harris' Medicare for All: Who will pay for it

Kamala Harris released her proposal for ‘Medicare for All’ on Monday, which details a comprehensive 10-year healthcare reformation, subsidizing households making under $100,000 and taxing corporations to pay for this undertaking.

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Harris’ rollout is a 3-part plan covering all medical essentials exempting households below $100,000, a higher income threshold for middle-class families living in high-cost areas, and expanding high-quality coverage to rural areas. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, she wants to audit prescription drug costs, and to expand cost-saving treatments like telehealth.

To pay for these changes, she will tax Wall Street stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%. She sees this as a $2 fee on a $1,000 trade by investors and big banks. She also plans to end foreign tax shelters by taxing offshore corporate income at the same rate as domestic corporate income. She believe these measures will raise $2 trillion over the ten-year rollout, accommodating for the difference from raising the middle-class income threshold.

Harris’ 3-part plan for restructuring the healthcare system if she takes the presidency will be more inclusive of all Americans while cutting costs. The first part of the plan will allow all Americans to buy into Medicare. Next, her administration will expand the Medicare system throughout a 10-year ‘phase-in period’. Finally, while creating the structure of Medicare, private insurers will be encouraged to develop Medicare plans that follow strict cost and benefit requirements.

Unlike the current Medicare system, she maintains that there will be strict oversight and consumer protection standards to prevent insurers from “profit[ing] off of or gaming consumers or the government”. There will also be options to purchase supplemental coverage like travel insurance or coverage for cosmetic surgery. Harris aims to be inclusive of private insurance but is insistent there must be more government oversight.

Her plan is influenced by a Citizen report that projects the U.S. spends $3.3 trillion annually on healthcare which is 17 percent of its GDP. Parallel to this, other industrialized nations like the U.K., Germany, Japan, and Canada spend between 9 and 11 percent of their GDP on healthcare, which equates to $3,400 to $5,700 per person. However, their overall health eclipses Americans’.

“We Can’t Afford NOT to Change the System,” Harris says. “Right now, the U.S. spends $3.5 trillion a year on health care. If we do nothing over the next decade, that number will skyrocket to an estimated $6 trillion a year. So the real question is: how can we afford not to act?

Harris has followed suit with several other democratic presidential candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders urging the American public that U.S. healthcare needs change by preparing her ‘Medicare-for-All’ plan. In her proposal, Harris cites that Americans pay twice as much for healthcare and yet 30 million people in this country are uninsured.

She maintains that under Trump’s leadership, 7 million people have lost coverage and 21 million more are at risk of losing their insurance as the administration and republicans challenge the Affordable Care Act in court. As a case study, she points to the 15,000 people that have died between 2014 and 2017 while red states have failed to expand Medicaid. She says her plan with reduce healthcare costs, while extending coverage to all Americans.

“In America, health care should be a right, not a privilege only for those who can afford it,” Harris said in the statement, “It’s why we need Medicare for All.”

Read more about her plan at kamalaharris.org/medicare-for-all.