Give me a second. You know, Ady, I knew this was gonna happen. Hi, Ady. Oh, I’m so happy to see you. Hello, hello. Good to see you. Welcome back to California. When you return after being away, what home
food comforts you? What do you do to decompress? What I do to decompress is I cook. I woke up at 5:00 this morning and I’m making
these Vietnamese short ribs. So you may smell the garlic, and ginger, and
lemongrass on me right now. You know, it’s just about being with family,
and I just love being with family and cooking for them. That’s what I do to decompress. As I lose the ability to eat,
I have to enjoy vicariously. I would like to begin our discussion of health
care today on a personal note. You’ve written that the day your mother
was diagnosed with cancer was one of the worst days of your life. Tell me about that and what her battle taught
you about the health care system in this country. It was awful. You know, for anyone, and so many of us have
had the experience of that first time hearing that there is an illness
that will lead to death. My mother, she said to my sister and me, ‘I
want to meet you guys for lunch.’ And she showed up at the restaurant, wearing
makeup— my mother never wore makeup. And her hair was blow-dried. She was dressed up. And I looked at my sister, I said,
‘What is going on?’ And my mother walked to the table, and she
took our hands, and she said she’d been diagnosed with colon cancer. That was one of the worst
days of my life,truly. Give me a second. You know, Ady, I knew this was gonna happen. I was like, I am not gonna tear up. I promised myself I was not gonna tear up. We have a health care system
that is very difficult to navigate. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent
person, but I don’t know medicine. And the thing that I feel so
strongly about is that it is so difficult for the person who’s going through that, much less their
family and their caregiver, but that— that family would also have to worry about how
to pay the bills and that they might be looking at bankruptcy, while they’re going
through all this other stuff. It’s just inhumane. What you’re saying is ringing
true to my daily experience. As California attorney general, you took action
against insurance industry greed and successfully won a $320 million settlement from a private
Medicare Advantage plan that was defrauding California. Can you talk a little bit about that case
and what it taught you? Let’s be clear about this: Access to health
care should be a human right, and not just a privilege of those who can afford it. It has been a business model that is motivated
by profit over public health. Government has three essential functions:
public education, public safety, and public health. And we’ve got to do a better job, which
is why I have a Medicare for All plan. Everybody should be covered, and money should
not be the reason people don’t get the health care they deserve. You originally co-sponsored Bernie’s Medicare
for All plan, but recently, you said you are not comfortable with it anymore. You have come out with your own different
vision. Can you explain your plan, and why you believe
it is better than the Medicare for All bill you originally co-sponsored when you first
came to the Senate? Bernie’s bill is good, but we could do better. I was meeting with people around the country
who were saying, look, we want to have an option of having a private plan. Don’t take away our options. And so I said, ok, under my Medicare for All
plan, there will be an option for a public plan or a private plan, but the insurance
companies are going to have to play by our rules, which means the private plans cannot
charge copays, cannot charge deductibles. The other point that I wanted to make is the
coupling of insurance with employment. That’s gotta stop because there are so many
people in our country who are losing their jobs. Sen. Harris, you use the phrase Medicare for
All when talking about your health care plan, but if I understand correctly, your plan is
closer to a combination of private and public options than single-payer Medicare for All. So why are you calling it Medicare for All? Because everybody will be covered. Nobody will be without coverage, and it will
be a Medicare system. It’s gonna be a public system, where we are going
to have extended benefits. It will include dental, it will include vision,
it will include hearing aids. Private insurers have to be in our system. So this is not an independent system, and
it’ll be by our rules, in terms of a Medicare for All system. As you know, I also have a perspective on
this question. I would like to tell you why I believe that
single-payer Medicare for All is the best approach, and I’d like you to tell
me where you disagree. Ok. First, only Medicare for All will get everyone
the care they need. Under your plan, millions of people like me
will still be denied care by their for-profit insurance company during the 10-year transition
period and afterwards. In addition, people will avoid getting needed
care because of high copays and deductibles. Second, only a true Medicare for All system
will drive down costs. It will save us hundreds of billions of dollars
per year in administrative and billing costs that are the result of a for-profit
insurance system. That will not happen if providers still have
to bill numerous insurance companies. Finally, there is the political reality. The insurance industry is going to do everything
it can to block any of these proposals, including yours, which means the only way to win is
with a huge grassroots movement, and from what I can see, that enthusiasm only exists
for Medicare for All. So, where am I wrong? Under my Medicare for All plan, on day one
you can get into the system of Medicare for All and have a public plan. You don’t have to do a private plan. It’s your choice. Your plan has a 10-year transition period
until it is fully enacted, spanning the course of at least two different presidencies. Given what you saw of Donald Trump’s attempts
to dismantle Obamacare, why do you think the transition to a different health care system
should be so gradual, giving the Republicans many opportunities to block it? What we saw in effect and what we saw as the
end result is yes, they played politics with public health. They named the Affordable Care Act Obamacare
in an attempt to make it unpopular, but what we saw happen is that when more people get
coverage— and under our plan, within the first five years, the majority of Americans
will be covered, as opposed to currently 30 million Americans not having coverage— is
that the people speak, and there’s a great amount of power and political power in the people. Do you think it is fair to say that you philosophically
believe the insurance companies play a useful role and should continue existing? I believe that those who abuse a system should
be held accountable, but I am not trying to get rid of all private insurance. The problem with private insurance is that
they’ve been writing the rules, and they have been taking advantage of consumers. This is about saying we’re going to take
them out of the business of having profit, be the guiding force for the way they conduct
themselves, and if they don’t play by our rules, they don’t play. They literally will not be able to
be in our system. Ok, Senator, last question. Since my diagnosis, I have been thinking a
lot about my legacy. I’m curious: What do you want your legacy
to be after you eventually exit the stage of national politics? How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as having lifted the
quality of life and circumstances of everyone, and in particular, those who historically
have been outside the access to resources, and power, and opportunity. I want to know that my life has been about
actually having impact. I’ll tell you, Ady, so much of the work
I’ve done over my career, it’s not been about a lovely speech, not been about some
grand gesture. The work work that I have done, in my career
and that I hope to continue to do is about actually showing that when you put resources
into the people and you see the capacity of people, that they will thrive and we all will
benefit as a result. Sen. Harris, this has been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, Ady. It means a lot to me to sit here with you. Thank you. Thank you.