The journalists at CBS This Morning on Monday again seemed rather unconcerned by 2020 Democratic plans to end private health insurance. Reporter Ed O’Keefe offered little in the way of alarm over 150 million being thrown off their health plans, should Senator Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris get their way.
Guest co-host Michelle Miller tamely referred to Kamala Harris “revealing a new plan for government-backed health care.” O’Keefe managed this explanation: “Sanders is the lead advocate for Medicare for all, a new government-backed system. It would virtually eliminate the private care industry.”
How big a deal is this? The website Bloomberg explained how the impact would be felt by 150 million people:
Kamala Harris says she supports “Medicare for All,” and she has cosponsored legislation with Bernie Sanders. But unlike her Democratic presidential rival, she says the plan wouldn’t end private insurance.
That’s misleading. The measure would outlaw all private insurance for medically necessary services but allow a sliver to remain for supplemental coverage. It would force the roughly 150 million Americans who are insured through their employer to switch to a government-run program.
O’Keefe didn’t mention that, although Americans support health insurance that covers everyone, only 13 percent want to forcibly eliminate private plans. He did, however, uncritically highlight the increase in taxes:
If California Senator Kamala Harris has her way, Medicare for all would be implemented over ten years instead of four years as Sanders wants. It would give private insurers a roll in the system by allowing them to provide a Medicare plan. And she would pay for the plan by raising taxes on people making more than $100,000 a year. Sanders’s plan would tax virtually everyone.
Co-host Tony Dokoupil ended the segment by chiding, “We remember that the U.S. is unique among its peers in not capping prescription drug prices.”
On January 29, 2019, CBS This Morning briefly noted (in an unconcerned tone) Harris’s initial suggestion that it’s “time to move on” from private health insurance. Also in January, then-co-host John Dickerson demanded 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg come up with bolder health care ideas: “When you talk about nibbling around the edges, if you look at the other Democrats who are running, they're not nibbling around the edges. They're talking about Medicare for all. Some are talking about getting rid of private insurance.”
A transcript of the July 29 segment is below:
CBS This Morning
8:07 AM ET
MICHELLE MILLER: Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris is revealing a new plan for government-backed health care this morning ahead of this week's Democratic debate. Fellow Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders made an international trip yesterday to make a point about health care cost. Ed O'Keefe is keeping track of the candidate's plans. Ed, what's behind health care?
ED O’KEEFE: Well, Michelle, good morning. Voters tell us health care remain a top of mind concern, specifically health care costs. A recent CBS News Battleground tracker survey of early primaries states finds that three of four Democrats must hear a candidate's proposal for lowering the costs before voting for them.
KATHY SEGO (voter): We're American citizens. How can that be that in the United States of America that I am paying so much for insulin?
O’KEEFE: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday crossed the border into Canada with people seeking cheaper diabetes medication.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Depending where you live, it will cost $350, 400 bucks. Here in Canada, it will cost 35 or 40 bucks.
O’KEEFE: Sanders is the lead advocate for Medicare for all, a new government-backed system. It would virtually eliminate the private care industry.
DAVID BLUMENTHAL: Health care accounts for almost 20 percent of our GDP. It's vitally important to the American people. It's unaffordable right now.
O’KEEFE: Several other presidential contenders support Sanders idea or some version of it.
KAMALA HARRIS: Health care is a fundamental right and we will deliver that right with Medicare for all!
O’KEEFE: If California Senator Kamala Harris has her way, Medicare for all would be implemented over ten years instead of four years as Sanders wants. It would give private insurers a roll in the system by allowing them to provide a Medicare plan. And she would pay for the plan by raising taxes on people making more than $100,000 a year. Sanders’s plan would tax virtually everyone.
JOE BIDEN: Bernie’s been honest. It’s going to cost, you know — it’s going to raise taxes on the middle class. Well, you've got to find 30 to $40 trillion somewhere. How are you going to do it?
O’KEEFE: Former Vice President Joe Biden's plan preserves and expands ObamaCare. It would cost $750 billion over the next decade and would provide a public option, if needed. Biden’s plan would allow Americans to import cheaper drugs from overseas and be paid for in part by ending the Trump tax cuts. Tony?
TONY DOKOUPIL: And, Ed, we remember that the U.S. is unique among its peers in not capping prescription drug prices. That's one reason the costs are out of control. I'm curious though, with the debates coming up over the next two days, what are the other issues that are likely to be at center stage?
O’KEEFE: Certainly health care since polling show it a top of mind-concern. Likely some concern about what the President has been saying and doing in the last few weeks. And we should also anticipate, given that it's happening in Detroit, that there might be some conversation about trade. Obviously with the automobile industry focused — based in Michigan, it would be top-of-mind concern to voters there.
ANTHONY MASON: All right, Ed. Thanks.