U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) focused on health care during a campaign stop in downtown Burlington Monday morning. She touted her “Medicare For All” plan, telling the crowd of about 100 people that health care is a right in the United States, not a privilege.
Harris said she focused on health care during her visit to southeast Iowa because of her family. She started her town hall with a story about her late mother, who she described as a scientist who studied breast cancer.
“[My mother] had two goals in life,” said Harris. “To raise her two daughters… and to end breast cancer. Those were her passions in life, those two things. And as fate would have it, [my mother developed] cancer and passed away a few years ago.”
Harris said her view of health care was shaped by her mother’s experience: going to hospitals, receiving chemotherapy, reading medical charts, checking medication. She said on top of all of that, many people have to worry about how to pay for it all.
“That is unconscionable, that is wrong,” said Harris. “Thankfully, my mother had Medicare, she had access to support but not everybody in America does. So I come to the issue from a perspective that is not only through personal experience, but also believing truly that access to health care should be a right and not a privilege of those who can afford it.
“It comes down to basic principles of humanity and kindness.”
Harris is promoting what she describes as a modified version of “Medicare For All.” She explained aspects of her plan to the audience during her town hall.
- Coverage for All
- Includes Vision/Dental/Hearing
- Direct Treatment for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
“What I plan is basically having mental health and substance abuse treatment on demand,” said Harris. “The point being, just as you go into an emergency room and get care, that should be the case when talking about mental health and substance abuse treatment.”
- People not on Medicare can transition to the plan over ten years.
- Public plan with a private option
“But we are going to require the insurance companies to play by our rules,” said Harris. “For too long, the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have been jacking up prices, been jacking up co-pays, been jacking up deductibles.”
- Increased Access for Women’s Health Care
- Cheaper Prescription Drugs
“We will require through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that drug companies set fair prices,” said Harris. “That fair price will be set by looking at what other countries are charging for the same drugs… If they don’t then I am prepared to take executive action on this and basically say, ‘OK, everyone can by their drugs in Canada.’”
Harris spent about 40 minutes talking about health care, and a few other issues, during her stop in Burlington. She did not, though, offer an explanation as to how she would pay for her proposal if she is elected President.