Kamala Harris is sticking by her full-throated support of ‘Medicare-for-all’ – despite a barrage of criticism from Republicans and even a potential Democratic primary rival for comments suggesting it would mean the end of private health insurance.
"Medicare-for-all is the plan that she believes will solve the problem and get all Americans covered. Period,” Harris campaign national press secretary Ian Sams told Fox News.
“She has co-sponsored other pieces of legislation that she sees as a path to getting us there, but this is the plan she is running on,” he added, suggesting potential support for other options as well.
The freshman California senator and former state attorney general – who launched her presidential bid last week – was asked Monday at a CNN town hall in Iowa if people could keep their current health insurance under her “Medicare for All” plan.
She seemed to suggest they couldn’t.
"Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. And you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require," Harris explained.
"Who among us has not had that situation?" she added. "Where you got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, 'Well I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this.' Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on."
Republicans quickly highlighted the senator’s comments.
Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told Fox News: “California liberal Kamala Harris just showed American voters how radical and out of step she is. Her full embrace of socialized medicine would completely eliminate your private health care plan, even if you like it.”
But Harris also came under attack by a high-profile Democrat – former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Bloomberg – visiting the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire on Tuesday as he seriously weighs launching a presidential campaign – told reporters, “I think you could never afford that. You’re talking about trillions of dollars.”
“To replace the entire private system where companies provide health care for their employees would bankrupt us for a very long time. It’s just not a practical thing,” the billionaire media mogul added.
Harris campaign communications director Lily Adams took to Twitter to respond to Bloomberg’s comments.
“Attacked by billionaires for fighting to make sure every American has health care. What a shock,” she wrote.
In the Senate, Harris co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare-for-all" legislation, which would phase out private for-profit health insurance. But she’s also supported a bill by Sen. Brian Schatz, which would allow some people to opt into Medicaid, and a proposal by Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Chris Murphy of Connecticut that would green-light individuals to enroll in a new form of Medicare.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.