Healthcare 2020: Mike Bloomberg
A late entry to the 2020 Democratic field, Mike Bloomberg has already made history by spending more money more quickly than any previous candidate. The former New York City Mayor has become a nightly fixture on television with advertisements running across dozens of states. Taking President Trump to task and emphasizing Bloomberg’s mayoral accomplishments, the ads touch on everything from COVID-19 to the health insurance industry.
He has only recently joined fellow nominees on the debate stage and ballot.
A Public Option
Mike Bloomberg has strived to present himself as a safe, sensible alternative to the Democratic race’s more progressive candidates. Where Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren advocate a single-payer system, Bloomberg’s healthcare proposal sounds a lot more like Joe Biden’s. In addition to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Bloomberg would introduce a “Medicare-like” public option to all Americans.
Rolling out this option, Bloomberg would give priority treatment to uninsured, low-income Americans in states where the ACA has not already expanded Medicaid coverage. He contends that introducing the public option would bring premiums down across the board by promoting competition.
Bloomberg would also make retirement (and retiring) less costly by developing a public option for retirement savings. This would ease the burden of the more than 10 million seniors who struggle to cover monthly expenses and make it easier for young Americans to start saving early.
On the Same Page
There’s no love lost between Bloomberg and the opponents to his left. Sanders and Warren, in particular, have criticized the former mayor for attempting to buy an election. That’s not to mention the gulf between their respective policies and Bloomberg’s.
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Bloomberg, Warren, and Sanders find some common ground, however, when it comes to pharmaceutical pricing. All three have called to eliminate restrictions that keep the federal government from negotiating with drug companies. Bloomberg would also ensure that drug prices are no higher than 120% their price in other industrialized countries. This resembles the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act described by Sanders. That legislation would tie American drug prices to the median price in Canada, France, Germany, and the UK. It is unclear which countries would factor into Bloomberg’s plan.
It is also worth noting the relatively conservative nature of Bloomberg’s pharmaceutical proposals. Medicare for All, as outlined by Sanders, would cap individual pharmaceutical payments at $200/year. Bloomberg’s plan would set a $2000 limit.
The subjects of long-term care, healthcare pricing, and surprise billing provide more common ground. Though Bloomberg would not eliminate the concept of “out-of-network providers” (as Sanders and Warren have proposed), he would cap out-of-network healthcare expenses at 200% of Medicare rates.
Bloomberg and his opponents differ wildly in how they would characterize his record. On the debate stage, Senators Warren and Sanders have challenged the Mayor on racial justice, workplace discrimination, and his history of supporting Republican candidates. To hear Bloomberg tell it, his record on healthcare isn’t nearly as spotty.
According to Bloomberg’s campaign website, he has made public health a priority for years as both a Mayor and philanthropist. During his three mayoral terms, he “expanded healthcare for working families and improved care for seniors.” Outcomes included reducing the number of uninsured New Yorkers by nearly 40% and cutting down on both teen smoking and childhood obesity.
While he has confirmed that he would not look to impose “soda taxes” on the national level, Bloomberg is eager to continue waging many of the same public health battles he fought as Mayor of New York City.