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Harris on health insurance stance: I misunderstood the moderator’s query

Hours after her high-flying debate performance the previous evening, Kamala Harris found herself playing defense Friday morning — again forced to clean up her stance on private health insurance as the California senator sought to capitalize on her newsmaking clash with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Harris and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were the only two candidates of the 10 White House contenders on stage during Thursday night’s debate to raise their hands when asked by NBC News’ Lester Holt whether they would “abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan.”
But in interviews Friday, Harris insisted she misunderstood the moderator’s query.
“Once and for all, do you believe that private insurance should be eliminated in this country?” co-host Willie Geist asked Harris on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“No,” Harris replied, adding: “But the question was, ‘Would you give up your private insurance for that option?’ And I said yes.”
“Oh, I think you heard it differently than others, then,” Geist said.
“Probably, because that’s what I heard,” Harris responded.
“I am a proponent of ‘Medicare for All,’” the senator clarified, adding that under her health care proposal, private insurance “will exist for supplemental coverage.”
“So, to boil it down, Medicare for All, available to everyone if they want it, but if they have private insurance, they keep it,” Geist pressed later in the interview.
“For supplemental. For supplemental coverage,” Harris said. “Otherwise, they’re in Medicare for All.”
Harris issued a similar walk-back earlier this year after a January town hall on CNN, during which she appeared to back abolishing the private health insurance system, remarking: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.” Her campaign has since asserted that she favors more incremental reforms.
“I am supportive of Medicare for All. And under Medicare for All policy, private insurance would certainly exist for supplemental coverage,” Harris told “CBS This Morning” on Friday.
“But under Medicare for All, in my vision of it, we would actually extend benefits,” she continued. “So for example, vision care, dental care, hearing aids — which currently are not covered.”
Quarrels among Democrats concerning government-run health care plans have become a flashpoint in the party’s presidential primary, with some more moderate candidates sharply opposed to eliminating the private insurance market.
During the first night of debates on Wednesday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were the only Democrats to declare their support for scrapping private health insurance.