Presidential candidate John Delaney says every American should have health care 'as a right'

John Delaney favors universal health care, but not Medicare-for-all

CNBC's John Harwood sat down with Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., who's leaving Congress to run for president. They talked about health care and the best way to get all Americans covered.

Harwood: Medicare-for-all — where are you on that issue?

Delaney: I think we should have universal health care. Every American should have health care as a right, I think it's a human right. I also think it's smart economics.

Harwood: So, is that universal Medicare?

Delaney: No, I would do something different. What would do is basically create a new system for everyone from when they're born to when they're 65. And I'd roll Medicaid into that. And then after 65, they'd go to Medicare. Maybe over time those things could merge together, but right now I think I'd leave Medicare alone. It works, people are happy with it.

Harwood: Would you phase out employment-provided health care?

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Delaney: Yes. That's how I'd pay for it. New system, everyone gets health care from when they're born to they die. This new program from birth to 65, and Medicare above that.

Harwood: So basically one government program for health care pre-retirement, and then Medicare.

Delaney: Yes, but one key distinction. You know how Medicare has supplementals? You'd have the same thing for the other program. A backbone system that everyone gets, and then they can supplementals. Or they can opt out if they want to get a small tax credit and buy private insurance.

You pay for that whole system by getting rid of the corporate deduction for health care, which is a terrible system. It doesn't make any economic sense. So my system, which I believe I could pay for with that and a few other things, gives everyone health care as a right, but allows them also to have lots of choices. And there'd be a private market that floats above the government market.

If you change jobs, you have health care, right? If you want to go start a business, you have health care. If you're a child and you age off your parents' health insurance — you and I know what this is all about — there's health care there for you. If you're low income, there's health care. That's the kind of health care we should have in this country.