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Michael Bloomberg: Medicare-for-all 'would bankrupt us for a very long time'

CNN logo CNN 1/29/2019 By Caroline Kelly and Cristina Alesci, CNN
Michael Bloomberg presents a climate award to the mayor of Austin, TX press conference/LIVE © Provided by CNN Michael Bloomberg presents a climate award to the mayor of Austin, TX press conference/LIVE

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said Tuesday that replacing private, employer-provided health insurance was financially impossible and a Medicare-for-all system, a popular progressive policy, would not work in the US.

"I think we could never afford that," Bloomberg said, addressing pin factory employees in Nashua, New Hampshire. "We are talking about trillions of dollars."

"I think you could have Medicare-for-all for people who are uncovered, but that's a smaller group," he added. "But to replace the entire private system where companies provide health care for their employees would bankrupt us for a very long time."

Bloomberg made the comments after Democratic presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris voiced her support for the policy Monday night at a CNN town hall and specifically said private insurance as we know it would have to end.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is weighing a possible 2020 run as an independent candidate, said Tuesday that Harris' comments supporting the end of private insurance were "not American."

"That's not correct. That's not American," he said on CBS Tuesday morning. "What's next? What industry are we going to abolish next, the coffee industry? The Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I don't agree with that. The Affordable Care Act should stay and be refined. To think to get rid of the insurance industry, this is the situation, it's far too extreme from both sides."

Harris could be a potential competitor for both Schultz and Bloomberg, as they consider whether to run for president.

Unlike the schedule for many of Bloomberg's trips last year, his agenda in New Hampshire is packed with openly political events. His Tuesday started with a question-and-answer session at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, a popular campaign stop for presidential candidates, before heading to Nashua for a tour of the oldest pin manufacturer in the country and a pizza lunch with factory employees there.

Bloomberg will also visit a coffee shop in Dover where he'll meet with Billy Shaheen, husband of Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Billy Shaheen orchestrated Jimmy Carter and John Kerry's New Hampshire primary wins.

The New York Democrat also expressed doubt at Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to tax Americans with a net worth over $50 million at 2% and an additional 1% levy on billionaires.

"I think the Constitution lets you impose income taxes only so it's probably unconstitutional," he said.

Bloomberg added that the US shouldn't be embarrassed over its capitalistic system, contrasting the success of American capitalism with the failed system in Venezuela.

"We need a healthy economy and we shouldn't be embarrassed about our system," he said. "If you want to look at system that's not capitalistic, just take a look at what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world and now people are starving to death: it's called Venezuela."

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