Many House Democrats Trying To Revive ‘Public Option’ With New Bill
More than 120 Democrats in the House are pushing a new bill to reintroduce a discarded idea from the health overhaul debate last year: the "public option," Los Angeles Times/Tribune reports. "The idea of creating a major government health insurance program was roundly rejected last year, but the 128 House Democrats pushing to reconsider the idea are now advancing the argument that it would help hold down federal spending. Their bill, which faces long odds, would allow Americans who do not get insurance at work to choose a government plan for their health coverage starting in 2014."
Sponsors of the bill, which include Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., say the Congressional Budget Office says the proposal could save the government $68 billion between 2014 and 2020. "Republicans lambasted the public option for much of last year as just more government. With a full plate of legislative business, House Democratic leaders also have little interest in restarting a health-care debate that split their own ranks" (Levey, 7/21).
CongressDaily: "'We've tweaked it so [the public option] fits in the exchanges,' said Woolsey. The legislation pegs public option reimbursement rates to 5 percent above Medicare rates. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., a co-sponsor and co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, acknowledged that the bill did not have much of a chance of passing in this Congress. 'By reintroducing it, we make sure that people don't forget this is a viable option,' he said" (McCarthy, 7/22).