Sen Kamala Harris, D-Ca has been pushing for something called Medicare for All, a scheme that would eliminate all private health insurance and lump everyone under a government-run system, much as exists in Canada and the UK. The scheme was first proposed by Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, but has now been taken up by most of the Democratic candidates for president. The conspicuous exception has been former Vice President Joe Biden, who is pretty sure that some kind of enhanced version of Obamacare will suffice to handle all of the healthcare needs of Americans.

Harris, like most of the Democratic presidential candidates, has been campaigning in Iowa, the first in the nation caucus state. She ventured to senior living center to give her pitch as to why she should be president when she ran into the worse nightmare of a politician – an informed voter. Fox News takes up the story:

“Presidential primary candidate Kamala Harris was confronted on Monday by an upset Iowa resident over the California senator’s plan to overhaul health care in the United States.

“The Democrat was speaking to voters at the Bickford Senior Living Center in Muscatine, Iowa when one of the center’s residents challenged her on how she planned to pay for ‘Medicare for All’ and told her not to ‘mess with’ health care.

“Leave our health care alone,” Roberta Jewell, a 91-year-old resident at the senior living facility, told Harris as she was describing her campaign’s health care proposal. “We don’t want you to mess with it.”

Harris hastened to assure Ms. Jewell that she has no intention of “messing with” anyone’s healthcare and that, in effect, if she likes her healthcare, she can keep her healthcare.

However, the Fox News article suggests that the senator is confused about the effects of her version of Medicare for All. The standard version of the scheme would eliminate all private insurance, the theory being that the government would provide healthcare at a much lower cost than the private sector. Proponents have failed to explain where this has ever been the case without draconian healthcare rationing and wait times, as happens in both Canada and the UK.

“But, Harris split from that approach on several fronts. She envisions a role for private insurers as long as they follow the government’s rules. She would slow the transition to a so-called single-payer system to 10 years from the four that her rival in the primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has proposed. And she has 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.”

The effect of the Harris version of government healthcare would be that indeed Ms. Jewell would keep her plan, but it would certainly be “messed with” with new government rules and mandates, much like the insurance policies under the Obamacare law. It is also unclear whether even these altered private insurance plans would still be around after the ten year transition period. It is also unclear whether one can have a single payor plan without massive middle-class tax increases. One estimate for Medicare for All suggests that it would cost $30 trillion over ten years, an immense sum by any measure. Sen Sanders’ Vermont rejected a similar plan because of the huge costs and the tax burden that goes with it.

Harris has not created much confidence since she previously followed the Bernie Sanders line by proposing to abolish private insurance. She was therefore for the abolishment of private health insurance before she was against it, a stunning flip-flop.

Harris made her ill-fated stop at the senior living center during a bus tour in which she is trying to shed her hard edge, prosecutor image and is trying to demonstrate her kinder and gentler side. After a brief boost in the polls after the first debate, when she demolished former Vice President Joe Biden on the stage on the subject of forced busing to achieve school integration, Harris has suffered a steady dip. According to Bloomberg, the latest statewide poll in Iowa has her at just 11 percent, behind Elizabeth Warren at 19 percent and Biden at 28 percent. Harris is trying to seem both progressive and pragmatic and, by all accounts, is failing at both.

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