Cory Booker on Health Care

Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator; 2020 presidential contender (withdrawn)


Forbid charging more for drugs in U.S. than elsewhere

Q: A drug called Truvada provides almost absolute protection against becoming HIV-positive. A monthly supply costs less than $6 to make. However, its manufacturer charges more than $1,600. What actions would you take to address this cost barrier?

BOOKER: We're going to use Medicaid, Medicare to negotiate down prices, taking patents away from companies that unjustly raise their prices, creating a law that you cannot raise the price of drugs higher in this country than you're selling in others.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall , Oct 10, 2019

We cannot sacrifice progress for purity

I'm clear in what I believe. I believe in Medicare-for-All. I believe it's the best way to rationalize the system. But dear God, [candidates in favor of other forms of] universal health coverage come at this with the best of intentions.

As a person who has an ideal, I know we cannot sacrifice progress on the altar of purity, because people in my community, they need help right now. They have high blood pressure right now. They have unaffordable insulin right now.

We as Democrats can begin to show that we cannot only stake and stand our ground, but find common ground. And we cannot lose it by the way we talk about each other or demonize and degrade each other. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. If I am the leader, I will work towards the ideal of health insurance, health coverage being a right for all Americans. But every single day, I'll join with other Democrats to make progress happen in our nation for the people that are struggling and suffering today.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

We spend multiple times what other countries do on health

Everyone should have access to healthcare, it's a human right. It has to end this broken system, because we are on our way, just a handful of years of literally spending 20% of our economy, one out of every $5 spent, on healthcare. We spend more than every other nation, on everything from MRIs to insulin drugs, multiple mores than other countries. I'm going to work to get us to a point where everyone is covered.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Too many profiting off of people's pain

Health care should be an American right. I believe the best way to get there is Medicare for all. But I have an urgency about this. There are too many people profiteering off of the pain of people in America, from pharmaceutical companies to insurers. The overhead for insurance that they charge is 15%, while Medicare's overhead is only at 2%. We can do this better. more access and more affordable costs until we get to my goal which is every American having health care.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami) , Jun 26, 2019

Health care is a right; public option is step towards goal

In the wealthiest nation on the planet Earth, everyone should have access to health care. I think the best way to get there is Medicare for All and I'm going to work towards that goal. I want to be pushing on a pathway towards getting to everyone having coverage, and part of that is going to be Medicare for all who want it. I have a clear goal in mind, healthcare as a right. I think the best way to get there is Medicare for All. I'm also a realist.
Source: ABC This Week 2019 interview of presidential hopefuls , May 12, 2019

Support Medicare for All but do what's possible now

We have a system that's designed more towards the back end of problems, when they're more expensive, the hospital emergency room, dealing with things when they become acute, not dealing with them in preventative care. I stand by supporting Medicare for all, but I'm also a pragmatist, I'm going to find the immediate things that we can do, because we're not going to pull health insurance from 150 Americans who have private insurance who like their insurance.
Source: CNN SOTU 2019 interview of presidential hopefuls , May 5, 2019

Public option is first step, negotiate lower drug prices

Nobody should go bankrupt because they get sick or put aside lifesaving drugs because they can't afford them. The best way to get there is Medicare for all. In my first hundred days we're going to put forward a public option, like lowering Medicare eligibility down to 55. Number two, one of the biggest drivers to health care costs in this country is the price of those pharmaceutical drugs. It's unacceptable. So, we would use the power of Medicare to negotiate down costs.
Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 interviews of presidential hopefuls , Apr 21, 2019

Medicare for all; start with commonsense reforms

In a system that is the most expensive system on the Planet Earth, we spend about 18 percent to 20 percent of our GDP on health care, and we still have folks that are struggling just to get by because our system doesn't go to patient care. The ideal is that everyone should have access to health care. Health care is an American right, and the current system is definitely wrong. I believe the best way to get there is by having Medicare for all. We can drive prices down doing commonsense things like using Medicare's bargaining power. You raise your drug prices higher than other countries, we're going to have a definite penalty. We're going to take away your patent and let generics come in and undercut those prices.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 27, 2019

Reduce Medicare eligibility to 55 from current age of 65

On Medicare: "We were one vote shy from bringing down Medicare eligibility to 55. One vote shy. I'm going to fight for that one vote when I'm running in 2020, because what would that have done?" Booker is one among several 2020 presidential candidates backing Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all bill. However, he stressed in this interview that he has also backed other, less-sweeping health care proposals, like reducing the Medicare eligibility age to 55, from the current age of 65.
Source: NPR Morning Edition, "Election 2020: Opening Arguments" , Mar 7, 2019

Allow importing prescription drugs to lower Rx prices

Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 1, 2019

Backs Medicare-for-All

Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 1, 2019

Ok to consider single-payer, but I'm not behind it

During Barack Obama's presidency, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) could only find 62 other House Democrats willing to co-sponsor his single-payer health care proposal--which would expand Medicare to cover every American. But now that Speaker Paul Ryan's House health care bill has imploded, Conyers's team has already signed up 78 co-sponsors for the exact same single-payer bill. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced over the weekend he'd be launching a new Medicare-for-All initiative.

But while Sanders and progressive Democrats clamor for a more aggressive approach, some Senate Democrats expressed skepticism about the need to go that far, that quickly. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) wouldn't get behind a single-payer health care system, instead calling it "one of those options that must be considered" in an email to Vox.

Source: Jeff Stein in Vox.com, "TrumpCare dead" , Mar 29, 2017

Repealing ObamaCare hurts working-class

Q: You have been critical of the Republican approach to repealing & replacing ObamaCare. Don't Democrats have an obligation to help fix this bill?

BOOKER: That would be great if they were coming with open hearts and saying, "hey, this is not perfect, let's fix it." Even before the Affordable Care Act, I was the mayor of a city dealing with health care costs. They were going up significantly. So don't put this all on this ACA. I don't think you will find a Democrat or Republican who wouldn't honestly tell you that things weren't perfect before. And what we're saying in the Democratic Party is, "let's build upon it, let's fix it."

Q: Don't you have an obligation to join Republicans and try to improve the bill?

BOOKER: That's really where we are. The Republicans cannot just force this down our throats. It's going to knock a lot of folks off, hurt long-term care, hurt good working-class folks. Their political strategy is bad politics. But, deeper than that, it is bad policy and bad process.

Source: CNN "State of the Union" 2017 interview with Jake Tapper , Mar 12, 2017

Repealing ObamaCare with no replacement just hurts Americans

Q: The Republicans are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act--in some form. Democrats think the GOP will get a political penalty for repealing and not replacing it.

BOOKER: The effort to repeal ObamaCare right now without a plan to replace it, this shouldn't be about politics. This is about real people in America who will be hurt immediately. The American Medical Association, which was against ObamaCare, says, "Don't repeal this without having a replacement plan." You have doctors' associations, nurses' associations, hospital associations all screaming, even some Republicans, "You're going to repeal this law & plunge many Americans into health crisis?" This is akin to shoving someone off a cliff and as they're falling down saying, "Don't worry. We're going to figure this out before you get to the bottom." And so my plan is very simple: Put up your plan. Show the American people. Donald Trump says, "we're going to have health care and it's going to be terrific". Well, show me what that is.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2017 interview by John Dickerson , Jan 8, 2017

ObamaCare is a vital step in the right direction

This is unacceptable, and I firmly support the Affordable Care Act as a vital step in the right direction. I believe that the ACA has begun, and will continue, to significantly transform our health care landscape. For example, right here in New Jersey, the Affordable Care Act has closed the Medicare donut hole for 109,000 Medicare beneficiaries and will save middle class New Jerseyans more than $1,000 per year by 2019.

In Newark, we know that investing up front can produce great gains in the long run, and that the opposite is equally and sadly true. As Mayor I did not wait for the federal government to improve health access for Newarkers.

Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com , Nov 3, 2013

ObamaCare needs to be improved, but is helping people now

Booker applauded Obama's Affordable Care Act--better known as "ObamaCare"--and chastised Republicans in Washington for fighting it to the point of forcing a partial shutdown of the federal government. He said the health care overhaul is helping people who have children with diseases that would have been denied coverage under the old system. "ObamaCare needs to be improved, and what we should be doing in Washington is working together (on it)," Booker said. "These are real people's lives."
Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate , Oct 5, 2013

Control healthcare cost; no comment on single-payer

Source: Politico.com coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate , Aug 6, 2013

We need a national solution and also local solutions

More recently dealing with health care crisis, people are saying we've got to find a National solution. I agree with that. But we've been finding local solutions.
Source: Interview at Fairfield University by News 64 , Feb 21, 2009

Newark Rx: affordable medications for uninsured Newarkers

The health care challenges of Newark and all American cities will continue until federal action is taken, but we will not take this challenge lying down and today we acknowledge a win in the battle for health care justice in Newark.

I am truly pleased tonight to announce Newark Rx, to begin to combat the rising costs of prescription drugs. Newark Rx will create immediate access to affordable medications for thousands of uninsured Newark residents. Newark Rx is the creation of my office, Heinz Family Philanthropies, PhRMA, and other innovative partners. Several pharmaceutical manufacturers are contributing funding and donating free--FREE--medications for the uninsured. I know through the amazing work of Teresa Heinz and Jeff Lewis of Heinz Family Philanthropies that more partners will be added and more people who need medications will get them.I am honored tonight to be joined my friend, Chris Heinz, a member of one of America's leading political and philanthropic families.

Source: 2009 State of the City Address at Newark Symphony Hall , Feb 9, 2009

Keep ObamaCare's prevention, treatment, & recovery services.

Booker signed keeping ObamaCare's prevention, treatment, & recovery services

Excerpts from Letter from 20 Senators to President Trump: Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with no clear plan for replacement will substantially worsen the opioid epidemic. Last year, Congress took important steps to address this national public health crisis, enacting two bipartisan laws to address the opioid epidemic and reform the way our health system treats mental health and substance use disorders.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act improved access to substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services. It promoted the use of best practices when prescribing opioid pain-killers, strengthening state prescription drug monitoring programs, and expanding access to the life-saving drug naloxone.

The 21st Century Cures Act also included critical mental health and substance use disorder reforms, strengthening enforcement of mental health parity laws, promoting the integration of physical and mental health care. Most importantly, the 21st Century Cures Act dedicated $1 billion in new grant funding, which will be essential to helping states provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services to patients These bipartisan advances will be fundamentally undermined by repeal of the ACA.

Opposing argument: (Warren, D-MA, in StatNews.com, 11/28/2016): Senator Elizabeth Warren railed against the 21st Century Cures, saying the bill had been "hijacked" by the pharmaceutical industry. "I cannot vote for this bill,'' Warren said. "I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion." The current legislation includes $500 million for the FDA, well below the amount Democrats had sought. Warren and Washington Senator Patty Murray have long argued that they would only support Cures legislation that included significant investment in basic medical research. While Warren said she supported many of the provisions, she called others "huge giveaways" to the drug industry.

Source: Letter Regarding Fighting the Opioid Crisis 17LTR-ACA on Feb 3, 2017

Other candidates on Health Care: Cory Booker on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld (L-NY,R-MA)
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External Links about Cory Booker:

2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

Page last updated: Feb 23, 2020