Public Option

With useful healthcare legislation extremely unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate until at least 2021, state-based public options will be all the rage for the next couple of years...

Connecticut lawmakers are joining other states that have unveiled proposals to expand government-run health coverage, with plans to extend state health benefits to small businesses and nonprofits, and to explore a public option for individuals.

Under two measures announced Thursday, officials would open the state health plan to nonprofits and small companies – those with 50 or fewer employees – and form an advisory council to guide the development of a public option. The legislation would allow the state to create a program, dubbed “ConnectHealth,” that offers low-cost coverage to people who don’t have employer-sponsored insurance.

Things have been happening so quickly of late that I'm getting farther and farther behind on some important healthcare policy developments, particularly at the state level. There are two extremely important Public Option announcements which could be game changers if they make it through the legislative process.

Since I don't have time to do full write-ups on either one right now, I'll just present these summaries:

My friend and colleague Colin Baillio, policy director of Health Action New Mexico, has been working on this for a long time, and it looks like this project has finally entered the legislative stage:

LUJÁN APPLAUDS INTRODUCTION OF MEDICAID BUY-IN LEGISLATION IN NEW MEXICO

Something is definitely in the water this week, and I believe it's called "Democrats hitting their stride on healthcare reform":

And now, this:

Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday announced proposed legislation for a new “public option” health-care plan under Washington’s health-insurance exchange.

The proposal, which Inslee said is the first step toward universal health care, is geared in part to help stabilize the exchange, which has wrestled with double-digit premium increases and attempts by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

“We are proposing to the state Legislature that we have a public option that is available throughout the state of Washington so that we can increase the ability to move forward on the road to universal health care in the state of Washington,” said the governor, who is considering a run for president in 2020.

With the 2019 Open Enrollment Period starts in less than 24 hours, it probably isn't the best timing for this, but with the elections also coming up in just six days, perhaps it is.

Axios just published a new national survey via SurveyMonkey which asks two simple but important questions:

  • Generally speaking, when you hear candidates talking about “Medicare for All,” what do you think they are proposing?
    • A single, government-run health insurance program to cover all Americans
    • An optional government-run program that would compete with private insurance
    • Neither of these
  • And which of the following options for health care would you favor most?
    • A single, government-run health insurance program to cover all Americans
    • An optional government-run program that would compete with private insurance
    • Neither of these

The results are pretty telling:

Given that Hillary Clinton has long supported a "public option" being included with the ACA and that she reiterated support for the public option (at the state level, since she recognizes that the odds of getting anything useful through a GOP-controlled Congress at the federal level is likely pretty slim) in late February, this piece by Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg Politics may seem like a nonstory:

At a campaign stop Monday in Northern Virginia, Hillary Clinton reiterated her support for a government-run health plan in the insurance market, possibly by letting let Americans buy into Medicare, to stem the rise of health-care costs.