Howard Schultz: Medicare for all is 'not realistic'

In a new interview with Yahoo Finance, former Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering running for president in 2020 as an Independent, argued that Medicare-for-all is not “realistic.”

"[These] Democrats who are running for president [are] well-intentioned, good people. They love the country," Schultz said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. "But, every single day there is another tweet or another policy and most of these policies — the Green New Deal is an example, which I was critical of the minute it came out after I read it — is they know, themselves, this is not going to be something that is going to get passed. And they say, 'Well, this is just aspiration.' We're not in the aspiration business. We're in the truth business. And we've got to tell the American people the truth."

Schultz, 65, said in late January on "60 Minutes" that he's “seriously considering” running for president in 2020 as a centrist Independent. A life-long Democrat, Schultz has become disenchanted with the Democratic Party due to some of the socialist ideas coming from the left. One of those “aspirations” is Medicare-for-all.

"The Democrats are now saying, 'Medicare-for-all.' That's their solution, which is basically a $33 trillion number, which would take 180 million Americans off of the insurance that's provided by their employer, wipe out the insurance industry. It's not realistic."

Growing up in government housing in Brooklyn, at age 7, Schultz witnessed his family struggle without a safety net when his father lost his job after falling on ice. His father’s accident shaped how Schultz led Starbucks.

Before Starbucks became a public company, Schultz offered all employees, both part-time and full-time, comprehensive health benefits.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gives a speech at Miami Dade College in Miami, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua)
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gives a speech at Miami Dade College in Miami, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua)

Schultz supported the Affordable Care Act passed under Obama, but he argued that it could be fixed.

"I supported [the ACA]. It wasn't perfect, and it's certainly imperfect today," Schultz said. "Why is it imperfect? Primarily because premiums have gone up twice. So a family of four is really struggling with that. So, we must lower those premiums back to a level that is affordable by most families."

His solution is to bring business, government, and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to the table.

"You've got to sit down and say, 'Listen, the government can't solve all these problems. Businesses need to do more for their families. We must have transparency on the cost of drugs. There's no reason whatsoever why the government is not negotiating for fair prices with pharmaceutical companies. There's no reason why we don't have interstate commerce with insurance. Doesn't make sense to me."

Schultz acknowledged that it's a complicated issue, but it's something that has kept coming up during his conversations with Americans over the last eight weeks.

"[I] can promise you this... If I was fortunate enough to become president, I can promise the American people — since health care has been so vital and so personal to my life from when I was 7 years old to what I did at Starbucks — that I would solve this problem with such a deep sense of urgency and concern for the American people."

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.