At a fundraiser in the Hamptons this weekend, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) told wealthy donors she has “not been comfortable” with the Medicare-for-All proposal pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of her leading rivals in the primary.
“I think almost every member of the United States Senate who’s running for president and many others, have signed on to a variety of plans in the Senate. And I have done the same,” Harris said, according to remarks provided by her campaign. “[A]ll of them are good ideas, which is why I support them. And I support Medicare for All. But as you may have noticed, over the course of the many months, I’ve not been comfortable with Bernie’s plan, the Medicare for all plan.”
The comments are the latest reflection of the turbulence that the California Democrat has encountered while navigating the politics of health care reform. Just two years ago, Harris was comfortable enough with Sanders’ bill to become the first senator to co-sponsor it. And back then, she exhibited no discomfort in doing so.
“This is about understanding, again, that health care should be a right, not a privilege. And it’s also about being smart,” Harris said in August 2017.
“So it’s not only about what is morally and ethically right,” Harris argued. “It also makes sense from a fiscal standpoint, or if you want to talk about it as a return on investment for taxpayers.”
At the time, Harris’ announcement was hailed as a shrewd reading of the direction of the Democratic Party on health care—one that would boost the senator’s progressive cred ahead of a possible White House run. And as recently as April of this year, Harris’ office sent a press release saying she had joined Sanders to formally introduce the Medicare-for-All Act of 2019. “Medicare for All finally makes sure every American has affordable, comprehensive health care,” she said.
That the senator now has reservations about the legislation was not, her campaign argued, a matter of political convenience but, rather, the end product of having worked on the issue more.
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