by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kamala Harris has a big idea for your health-care plan: elimination.
The early contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination are working feverishly to out-radical each other. Senator Elizabeth Warren has come out with a confiscatory wealth tax that in practice proved too oppressive for Sweden and Denmark, both of which abolished theirs years ago. Harris, not wanting to be outflanked on her left, has now called for the abolition of private health insurance, a proposal that would go well beyond even the practice in single-payer systems such as those of the United Kingdom and Canada.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her whether under her “Medicare for All” proposal people would be permitted to keep their insurance if they like it. Harris, unlike Barack Obama, offered no such concession. Instead, she offered this: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
Move on to what?
Harris argued that under her system patients would be liberated from having third parties “give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require.” That has not, to say the least, been the experience under government-monopoly health-care systems in real-world practice. In reality, those systems are characterized by bureaucracy, delays, and seemingly arbitrary decisions enforced by the state. There is plenty to criticize about the U.S. health-insurance and health-care businesses, which remain much in need of reform, but the evidence of history strongly suggests that the imposition of a new federal bureaucracy is not the most convenient means of reducing paperwork and delay.