Kamala Harris insists she still backs "Medicare for All," but the health care proposal she released on Monday stops short of the full scale health care system overhaul that's being advocated by her more liberal 2020 Democratic presidential rivals, the AP reports. In a split with Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All's chief architect and a fellow White House hopeful, Harris said she envisions a role for private insurers as long as they follow the government's rules. In a Medium post published on Monday outlining her proposal, Harris said her focus was on finding a way to lower health care costs. She would slow the transition to a so-called single-payer system to 10 years from the four Sanders has proposed. And she ruled out tax increases on middle income Americans, an idea to which Sanders has expressed openness in exchange for lowering the price of health coverage.
Medicare for All has become a defining issue in the Democratic primary, with the most progressive candidates calling for a revolutionary approach to providing insurance coverage for all Americans at a lower price. Harris' proposal, released a day before highly anticipated presidential debates begin, essentially seeks to thread the Democratic Party's disparate camps, nodding to the demands of the progressive base while acknowledging that some voters are nervous at the prospect of losing private coverage provided by their employers. But it also could open the California senator to criticism that she's trying to appease all corners while doing little to stake out a position of her own, and Medicare for All advocates were quick to criticize the approach. She's already had to repeatedly clarify her positions on fundamental questions including the role of private insurers. (More on the criticism of Harris' plan here.)