It’s Back: House Democrats Argue Anew For Public Option
House Democrats are arguing again for the passage of a public option to compete with private health plans and reduce the deficit, news outlets report.
"Armed with a new score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing their public plan saves $68 billion between 2014 and 2020, liberal Democrats vowed Thursday to fight for their proposal's passage next year," The Hill reports. "The CBO also says premiums in the public plan would be 5 percent to 7 percent lower than the premiums offered by private plans in the state health insurance exchanges that are due to begin operating in 2014. The bill to create a so-called 'robust' public option that would pay doctors and hospitals Medicare rates plus 5 percent was introduced Wednesday evening; it has 128 original co-sponsors, with Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and [Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)] in the lead." Industry groups representing insurers and doctors opposed the public option vigorously.
"The $68 billion figure is lower than last year's $110 billion savings score for the provision because of differences in the House bill and the Senate version that made it into law; in particular, the Senate has less generous subsidies for people to buy private insurance" (Pecquet, 7/22).
The Seattle Times: "Premiums for a public plan would be about 5 percent to 7 percent lower on average than for comparable policies sold by commercial insurers, the CBO said. That, [Rep. Jim] McDermott [D-Wash.] contends, would be a tough argument for even the GOP to reject. Reining in health-care spending is the weak link in the overhaul, he added" (Song, 7/22).
KGO-TV, abc7news.com (San Francisco): "Woolsey says her bill if passed will take effect in 2014, when Americans will be required to buy health insurance. 'It would be a government program that fits right into the exchanges,' says Woolsey. Woolsey says it'll offer a government-run low-cost alternative to private insurance companies. Tea party members who've been vocal in their opposition are outraged, according to the organizer of the Pleasanton tea party rally in April, Bridget Melson. 'And there's going to be public outrage. I guarantee you that there's going to be mass demonstrations,' says Melson from San Diego" (Matthews, 7/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.