12:23 - Source: CNN
Tapper's full one-on-one with Sen. Cory Booker
Washington CNN —  

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker doubled down on his decision to support a “Medicare for All” bill that would effectively eliminate private insurance plans while also supporting individuals’ ability to maintain private insurance plans under the system, saying his support for both will help such a proposal pass through Congress should he become president.

“I stand by supporting Medicare for All, but I’m also that pragmatist that, when I’m chief executive of the country, like I was (as mayor of Newark, New Jersey), I’m going to find the immediate things that we can do,” Booker told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.” “Because I’m telling you right now, we’re not going to pull health insurance from 150 million Americans who have private insurance who like their insurance – my union friends, brothers and sisters, who have negotiated for their health insurance.”

“I believe if we’re designing our system, Medicare for All is the right way to go. But I’m also realistic to say – and you know this – when I become President we may have only maybe a 50-50 tie in the Senate,” he added. “And my vice president, whoever she is, is going to have to get a lot of exercise going to the Senate and breaking ties. We are going to have to do things that might get me towards my goal of expanding access and lowering cost.”

Booker, who represents New Jersey, is a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill introduced last month by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ – who is also a Democratic presidential candidate – that would provide insurance to all Americans through a plan run by the federal government that would cover all medically necessary care, including vision and dental. Under the plan, private insurers could remain in business, but could only provide benefits – such as elective surgery – not covered by the federal plan.

Booker has previously signaled his willingness to consider compromise plans that allow private insurers a role to play in any new or revamped system.

“It’s going to have to be a pathway to getting there that’s going to start with the common sense things that can unite Americans,” he told Tapper.

CNN’s Gregory Krieg and Tami Luhby contributed to this report.