FACT CHECK: Did Cory Booker Support A Bill Ending Employer-Sponsored Insurance?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

Noah Rothman, an associate editor at Commentary Magazine, claimed Friday that Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker co-sponsored a bill that would bar employer-sponsored insurance.

Verdict: True

Booker co-sponsored a bill that would create a single payer health care system in the U.S. With limited exceptions, the legislation would bar employers from providing their employees with private health insurance.

Fact Check:

Booker was asked Friday whether he would “do away with” private health care if elected president. Another presidential contender, California Sen. Kamala Harris, suggested recently that she would support eliminating private insurance in pursuit of government-run health care.

“Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care, so no,” Booker replied.

Rothman responded by pointing out that Booker co-sponsored a bill – presumably the Medicare for All Act of 2017 – put forward by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The bill, which would create a single payer health care system, had 16 co-sponsors, including Booker, Harris and other 2020 hopefuls, such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.

“You should not be punished because you are working-class or poor and be denied health care. I think health care should be a right to all,” said Booker when announcing his support for the bill. “This is something that’s got to happen. Obamacare was a first step in advancing this country, but I won’t rest until every American has a basic security that comes with having access to affordable health care.”

Section 107 of the act would make it unlawful for “a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under” the act, or for “an employer to provide benefits for an employee … that duplicate the benefits provided under” the act.

In other words, Medicare for All would bar private insurers from selling plans that compete with government insurance, and employers wouldn’t be able to provide those benefits to employees.

The benefits covered under Sanders’ bill are expansive and include primary care, vision and dental, hospital services, prescription drugs, medical devices, mental health treatment and laboratory services.

Insurers would only be able to offer a narrow set of benefits not covered by the bill, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that Medicare for All would effectively eliminate the private health insurance industry.

The role private insurance plays in Western health care systems varies from country to country.

“It is typical among other democracies that provide social insurance for universal health care that a large share of their populations have private health insurance for either complimentary or supplemental benefits,” Gunnar Almgren, who recently retired from the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, told The Daily Caller.

“For example, although France has very generous public plan for universal health care coverage, 96 percent of French households carry private health insurance for ‘complimentary’ coverage,” he said.

Booker has supported health care proposals that don’t bar private health insurance. The New Jersey senator also co-sponsored the Medicare-X Choice Act, a Democratic proposal that would create a public option to compete with private insurers.

In 2017, 8.8 percent of people in the U.S. did not have health insurance at any point in the year, according to the Census Bureau. Private health insurance covered 67.2 percent of individuals that year, as opposed to 37.7 percent receiving government insurance.

Employer-based insurance was the most common insurance type in 2017, covering 56 percent of the population for at least part of the year.

Charles Blahous of the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center estimates that Medicare for All would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter