For the second time in a period of five months, Sen. Kamala Harris was forced to clarify Friday morning that she does not support eliminating private health insurance just hours after making it seem to many that she did.
"No, no I do not," Harris said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" when asked if she supports abolishing private insurance. "I am a proponent of Medicare for All. Private insurance will exist for supplemental coverage."
Harris's remarks came after she raised her hand in response to an "awkwardly phrased" question from NBC's Lester Holt during Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.
"Many people watching at home have health insurance through their employer," Holt said. "Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?"
Tonight's candidates who raised their hands to abolish private insurance: Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris pic.twitter.com/MG58k71hUV
— Axios (@axios) June 28, 2019
Harris said she interpreted the question as asking whether she would be willing to give up her own private insurance plan in favor of a government-run program like Medicare for All.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lead Senate sponsor of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, was the only other candidate on the stage who raised his hand in response to Holt's question.
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According to The Hill, "Sanders's plan would cover every medically necessary service, including dental, vision, and long-term care for people with disabilities. That would leave little room for private insurers to cover anything except cosmetic surgery."
"Harris has seized on this technicality in the past," The Hill reported, "to argue that Medicare for All wouldn't eliminate private insurance and that 'supplemental coverage' would still exist."
Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Washington Post in May that, "As a technical matter, the Medicare for All bill would allow private insurers to sell supplemental policies for benefits not covered by the government plan."
"As a practical matter," Levitt said, "the government plan covers such a comprehensive set of benefits that there would be virtually no role for private insurance."
Harris's comments Friday mark the second time this year she has clarified her position on private health insurance following a television appearance.
During a CNN town hall in January, Harris suggested she would support eliminating private insurance. Just hours later, a Harris campaign aide put out a statement saying the senator is open to multiple incremental healthcare plans that would keep private insurance intact.