Skip to main content

Kamala Harris: A Tireless Champion For Health Care

By August 11, 2020August 14th, 2020No Comments

Washington, DC — Today, Vice President Joseph Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“Kamala Harris has been a health care champion in the U.S. Senate since the day Vice President Biden swore her into office. Senator Harris’ strong leadership on health care makes her the perfect choice to help Joe Biden lead our country out of the worst health care crisis in generations. She fought tooth and nail against President Trump’s dangerous lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act and rip coverage away from 23 million people in the midst of a pandemic. A staunch defender of Medicare and Medicaid and a leader on protecting people with pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, Senator Harris will work tirelessly with Joe Biden to ensure that everyone has access to the affordable, quality health care they need, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Kamala Harris Is Standing Up To Trump’s Sabotage Of Our Health Care System 

Kamala Harris Is Standing Up Against The Texas Lawsuit That Would Rip Coverage Away From Millions of Americans

President Trump is trying to rip away our health care by going to court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. If the Texas lawsuit is successful, it will strip coverage from millions of Americans, raise premiums, end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put insurance companies back in charge, and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. Kamala Harris has been a consistent voice leading the charge against this devastating lawsuit. 

Harris On The Lawsuit To Overturn The ACA: “We Must Fight With Everything We Have To Avert This Catastrophe.” “My mother was a breast cancer researcher. She understood, from a career of looking at cancer cells under a microscope, that no matter who we are or where we are from, our bodies are essentially the same. They work the same way — and they break down the same way, too. She got sick before the Affordable Care Act became law, back when it was still legal for health insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. I remember thanking God she had Medicare. That’s something I’ve been thinking a great deal about in the days since a federal district judge in Texas, ruling in a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general, declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. This was not the first attack by Republicans on the law, but if upheld, it will be the most catastrophic. Without the protections of the A.C.A., Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied health insurance and insurance companies would once again be allowed to discriminate based on age and gender. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 50 million Americans could be rejected for coverage by health insurers if the A.C.A. were to disappear. At the same time, people in their mid-20s would get kicked off their parents’ plans. Lifetime caps could come back. Out-of-pocket costs would no longer be capped. The expansion of Medicaid in dozens of states could be reversed. The human toll would be unthinkable, with some experts estimating that 20,000 to 100,000 people could die each year. We must fight with everything we have to avert this catastrophe.” [Kamala Harris Op-Ed, New York Times, 12/29/18

Harris Criticized President Trump For “Actively Trying To Dismantle The ACA During A Pandemic.” “The Affordable Care Act is benefitting millions of Americans, and its destruction would have a devastating impact on low-income communities, people with preexisting conditions, seniors, and people of color. Yet Trump is actively trying to dismantle the ACA during a pandemic.” [@KamalaHarris, 7/6/20

Harris: “The Affordable Care Act Brought Health Care To Millions Of People Who Didn’t Have It. Bill Barr Is Trying To Get Rid Of It In The Midst Of A Public Health Crisis.” [@KamalaHarris, 4/23/20

Harris Voted Against The Tax Bill Which Forms The Basis For The Trump-Republican Lawsuit. Harris voted against the Republican tax bill, which repealed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most people to have health coverage and which is the basis of the Trump-Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. 

Harris Sponsored Legislation Authorizing The Senate Legal Counsel To Intervene In The Trump-Republican Lawsuit And Defend The ACA. Harris cosponsored a resolution (S. Res. 18), which would authorize Senate legal counsel to defend the Affordable Care Act against attack in Texas v. Azar.

If the Texas lawsuit is successful:

  • 23 Million Americans Could Lose Coverage. According to the Center for American Progress, 23.3 million people could lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act. As the uninsured rate swells, so will the amount of uncompensated care, which Urban predicted will grow by at least 82 percent if the ACA were repealed.
  •  2.3 million adult children will no longer be able to stay on their parents’ insurance. 
  • States would lose important federal health care funding — an estimated reduction of $135 billion in the first year. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies by $135 billion, or 34.6 percent in the first year.
  • Insurance companies would be put back in charge, ending protections for the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition. 135 million Americans have a pre-existing condition, including more than 17 million children, 68 million women, and 32 million people aged 55-64. 



Kamala Harris Opposes Donald Trump’s Plan To Slash Medicare and Medicaid

2019: Harris Called Trump’s Budget Proposals To Cut Medicare “Yet Another Piece Of Evidence For Why We Need A New President.” “This budget says a lot about the President’s priorities: cut $845 billion from Medicare, while spending billions on his vanity project, the wall. This would hurt our seniors and is yet another piece of evidence for why we need a new president.” [@KamalaHarris, 3/11/19] 

2017: Harris Voted Against Trump’s Plan To Slash Medicare By $473 Billion. Harris voted against the FY 2018 budget resolution, which included $473 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17

2017: Harris Voted Against Trump’s Plan To Slash $1.3 Trillion From Medicaid. Harris voted against the FY 2018 budget resolution, which cut funding for non-Medicare health programs, most notably Medicaid, by 1.3 trillion, a 20 percent cut over the course of 10 years, increasing to a 29.3 percent cut by 2027. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17

Kamala Harris Is Working To Block “Junk” Insurance Plans That Can Refuse To Cover Pre-Existing Conditions, Including Covid-19 

2019: Harris Cosponsored Legislation To Block The Expansion Of “Junk” Insurance Plans. Harris cosponsored a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn a Trump administration health care policy that allows the expansion of short term health care plans that do not have to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions or cover essential health benefits. [SJ Res 52, 116th Congress

  • Harris: “Time And Time Again, This Administration Has Attempted To Strip Away Protections For The Millions Of Americans With Pre-existing Conditions, And Their Latest Attempt To Sell Junk Health Care Plans Is No Different.” ““Time and time again, this administration has attempted to strip away protections for the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and their latest attempt to sell junk health care plans is no different,” said Senator Harris. ‘Enough is enough. Congress must take a stand.’” [Sen. Kamala Harris Press Release, 8/1/19

2018: Harris Cosponsored Legislation To Block The Expansion Of “Junk” Insurance Plans. Harris co-sponsored and voted for a resolution to block President Trump from expanding access to short-term health care plans. [SJ Res 63, Roll Call Vote #226, 10/10/18

Junk plans allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, limit care, and put consumers at risk of financial ruin and limit the care consumers get: 

  • Junk Plans Are Allowed To Discriminate Against People With Pre-Existing Conditions. “Policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition could be considered pre-existing and so excluded from coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • More Than 135 Million Nonelderly Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 10/2/19]
  • 1 in 4 Children Would Be Impacted If Insurance Companies Could Deny Or Charge More Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • Junk Plans Can Refuse To Cover Essential Health Benefits. “Typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Under Many Junk Plans, Benefits Are Capped At $1 Million Or Less. Short-term plans can impose lifetime and annual limits – “for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $1 million or less.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Commonwealth Fund: “Cost Sharing Designs In Short-Term Coverage Leave Members Facing Major, Unpredictable Financial Risk.” “The out-of-pocket maximum for each best-selling plan is higher than that allowed in individual or employer plans under the ACA, when adjusting for the shorter plan duration. When considering the deductible, the best-selling plans have out-of-pocket maximums ranging from $7,000 to $20,000 for just three months of coverage. In comparison, the ACA limits out-of-pocket maximums to $7,150 for the entire year.” [Commonwealth Fund, 8/11/17]
  • Short-Term Junk Plans Can Retroactively Cancel Coverage After Patients File Claims. “Individuals in STLDI plans would be at risk for rescission. Rescissions are retroactive cancellations of coverage, often occurring after individuals file claims due to medical necessity. While enrollees in ACA coverage cannot have their policy retroactively cancelled, enrollees in STLDI plans can.” [Wakely/ACAP, April 2018]

Kamala Harris Is A Leader In Reducing Health Care Costs And Protecting Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions 

Kamala Harris Supports Allowing Medicare To Negotiate To Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Harris: “Medicare, Which Covers About 55 Million People, Could Have Incredible Bargaining Power To Drive Significantly Lower Prescription Prices Through Negotiation.” “Compared with people in other wealthy countries, Americans face extraordinarily high prescription drug prices. In 2016, for example, the same dose of Crestor, a medication that treats high cholesterol, costs 62% more in the US than just across the border in Canada. This disparity exists with drug after drug. 58% of Americans take prescription drugs; and 25% find their medications difficult to afford. Why are Americans paying so much more for the medications we need? Because, unlike many other advanced countries, the U.S. government doesn’t negotiate prices on prescription drugs. When a government is purchasing medicines in bulk, it can negotiate a better price and pass those cost savings to consumers. Medicare, which covers about 55 million people, could have incredible bargaining power to drive significantly lower prescription prices through negotiation. But lawmakers from both parties, at the behest of the pharmaceutical lobby, have prohibited Medicare from doing so.” [Kamala Harris, “These Truths We Hold,” 2017] 

2019: Harris Cosponsored The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act. Harris is a cosponsor of the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would require the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services negotiate the prices of covered drugs and either establish a formulary for covered drugs, or require changes to PDP formularies that take into account CMS negotiations. [S. 99, 116th Congress

Kamala Harris Is Fighting Back Against Republican Schemes To Repeal The ACA And Its Protections For 135 Million Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions

2020: Harris Is Fighting Back Against Republican Attempts To Strip Protections From Millions Of Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions During The Covid-19 Pandemic. “We are still in the midst of a historic public health crisis that requires access to health care. The number of coronavirus infections and deaths continues to grow every day. Many frontline workers still don’t have the personal protective equipment they need as they courageously risk their lives to serve others and keep our country running. Families across the country have lost their incomes — and health insurance — and don’t know how they’ll pay bills or put food on the table. More than 40 million workers in the US have filed for unemployment. Now more than ever, people need reliable health care that they can afford. But the Trump administration wants to tear down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided access to health care for millions of people across the country. The ACA is a literal lifesaver: 20 million more Americans now have health insurance; 135 million people with pre-existing conditions now have protections; 17 million people now have coverage under expanded Medicaid; 12 million seniors now pay lower prescription drug costs; and 2.3 million young people can stay on their parents’ health insurance. But if Republicans and the Trump administration have their way, millions of people will have the rug pulled out from under them in the middle of a deadly global health crisis.” [Kamala Harris Op-Ed, CNN, 6/17/20

  • Harris: “The Aca Is Benefitting Millions Of Americans, And Its Destruction Would Have A Devastating Impact On Low-income Communities, People With Preexisting Conditions, Seniors, And People Of Color — Especially During A Pandemic.” “The ACA is benefitting millions of Americans, and its destruction would have a devastating impact on low-income communities, people with preexisting conditions, seniors, and people of color — especially during a pandemic. People of color are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that put them at a higher risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19. Black people are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than their white counterparts; Latinas have a one in two risk of developing diabetes, and American Indian/Alaska Natives have a higher rate of diabetes than white people. These are not faceless columns on a spreadsheet. These are real people with families, friends, and community. There is no denying — if this administration prevails lives will be put at serious risk.” [Kamala Harris Op-Ed, CNN, 6/17/20

2017: Harris Helped Defeat The Senate “Repeal And Delay” Plan. Harris voted against the Obamacare Repeal and Replacement Act was a Republican effort to repeal the ACA without a replacement. Known as “repeal and delay,” the bill repealed major sections of the ACA, including the Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits, in 2020. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #169, 7/26/17

  • If Repeal and Delay became law, 32 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2026. 18 million Americans would lose health coverage just in the first year after repeal. 
  • Health insurance premiums would double for those in the individual market.

2017: Harris Helped Defeat The Better Care Reconciliation Act. Harris voted against the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which repealed and replaced the ACA. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #168, 7/25/17

2017: Harris Helped Defeat “Skinny Repeal” Of The ACA. Harris voted against “Skinny Repeal” of the ACA, which repealed the individual mandate and delayed the employer mandate while leaving most of the rest of the law in place. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #179, 7/28/17

According To CBO, Skinny Repeal Would Have Resulted In The Largest Coverage Loss in American History: 

    • At minimum, 15 million Americans would lose coverage in 2018. This would have been the biggest one-year increase in our nation’s history. 
    • Premiums would go up by roughly 20 percent