- Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's pick for running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, was an early backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan, though later came up with a somewhat more moderate proposal during her primary run.
- She has recently decried systemic failures highlighted in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Black woman and first Asian American on a major party's national ticket, she wrote that people of color are "being infected and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate and astounding rates ... in part, due to persistent bias in our health care system."
- One of the largest contributors to Harris' 2020 run was integrated healthcare system Kaiser Permanente, a powerhouse in California and other states. At the tail-end of the top 20 contributors to her campaign is also Blue Cross/Blue Shield, according to Open Secrets.
Biden, unlike most of his primary competitors, has not supported Medicare for All. His platform calls for expanding the Affordable Care Act, the landmark law he helped usher through Congress as vice president in the Obama administration.
He also calls for a public option and lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60.
Harris' plan preserves a role for private insurers issuing supplemental coverage, similar to Medicare Advantage, and includes a 10-year transition period. That's a step back from more progressive proposals like that of Sanders of Vermont. Harris, was, however, one of the first to co-sponsor Sanders' bill to establish a single-payer system before releasing her own platform.
In an op-ed for the New York Times at the end of 2018, Harris wrote that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. "There should be nothing partisan about wanting a system where health coverage and care are based not on how much money you have or where you live," she wrote. "We need a system with the goal of good outcomes rather than the goal of high profits."
Kaiser Family Foundation EVP for Health Policy Larry Levitt wrote on Twitter the role of healthcare in November's election won't center on Medicare for All policies, but is "going to hinge much more on President Trump's record on the pandemic and efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act."
In a KFF poll from February, healthcare was most often listed by voters as the most important issue for them when considering their vote for president. That poll also showed a clear majority in favor of the ACA.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris was attorney general in California and was also a district attorney in San Francisco.
Her time as AG wasn't marked by as many prominent healthcare interventions as current office-holder Xavier Becerra, but she got into a battle with a health system over controversial efforts to sell the struggling nonprofit Daughters of Charity Health System.
Harris was sued by for-profit health system Prime Healthcare in 2015 after its bid to buy those six hospitals fell through. Prime argued that Harris' tough conditions on the deal were quid pro quo for support from a politically powerful labor union in her run for Senate.
The system was eventually sold to hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management and became Verity Health System. Harris granted conditional approval of the transaction with numerous conditions, including maintaining essential services and historic levels of charity care.