Last Thursday, 27 United States senators called for a Medicare-like option in the state health exchanges. Senators Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray, Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer, along with 22 other senators introduced a resolution that complements Secretary Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a “public option”–a government plan like Medicare–that would be available to every American. Since then, six more senators have signed onto the resolution.
The senators want to give everyone in America the choice between commercial health insurance and government health insurance, the public health insurance option. A public option would not only give people more choice, but it would drive competition in the marketplace, bringing down health care costs.
A public option would also guarantee people the continuity of care they value. Right now, people in the state health insurance exchanges and people with employer coverage cannot rely on their commercial health plan coverage from one year to the next. Insurers enter and leave markets as they please. Recently, Aetna announced it is pulling out of many health care markets, claiming that it doesn’t view them as profitable.
During the debates over the Affordable Care Act, the public option was introduced and ultimately quashed for lack of support in the Senate. At that time, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it could drive down health insurance premiums as much as seven percent and reduce the deficit $68 billions over six years. But, doctors and hospitals were generally opposed to it for fear that it would bring down their reimbursement rates.
If you support the Senators’ resolution and want a public option, click here and sign on to a petition at WeWantaPublicOption.com. The resolution currently has support from a range of advocacy organizations, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee(PCCC), Presente.org, UltraViolet, Working Families Party, MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Daily Kos, and the AFL-CIO.
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