2020 Presidential Election

Biden, Harris Release Healthcare Blueprints

After providing scant details for months, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released the key planks of their healthcare plans in July. In it, they staked out positions differentiating themselves from other presidential primary frontrunners, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
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After providing scant details for months, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released the key planks of their healthcare plans in July. In it, they staked out positions differentiating themselves from other presidential primary frontrunners, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

Chief among them: Medicare for All, a policy position now supported by all of the Democratic presidential primary frontrunners, sans Biden. Instead of expanding Medicare, Biden is proposing “a public health insurance option like Medicare” and, in general, a more incremental policy approach that builds “on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs and making our health care system less complex to navigate.” 

In addition to proposing a public health insurance option, Biden’s healthcare pitch also includes using tax credits to lower health insurance premiums for individuals, allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices and permit prescription drugs to be imported from other countries. 

In a post Monday on Medium.com, Harris outlined her healthcare plan to fix a “patchwork of plans, providers and costs that have left people frustrated, powerless and insurance companies in charge.”

Similar to the Sanders and Warren plans — but unlike Biden’s — Harris’ healthcare proposal would allow all Americans to buy into Medicare. It would also phase in, over a decade, an expanded Medicare system that would automatically enroll all newborn babies, as well as allow private insurance companies to offer these plans.

“Essentially, we would allow private insurance to offer a plan in the Medicare system, but they will be subject to strict requirements to ensure it lowers costs and expands services,” she wrote. 

Is this incremental approach to healthcare part of a larger plan by Biden’s campaign to market him as an electable moderate? Is Harris creating a point of differentiation from the Medicare for All plans of Sanders and Warren, whom she most closely trails in national polls? Tune in to the next round of Democratic presidential primary debates on July 30 and 31 to find out. 

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Matthew Murray is the Executive Editor of American Healthcare Journal.

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