Whatever Happened to Biden’s Public Option? – KFF Health News

Candidate again in 2020 elections Joe Biden And many of his congressional colleagues strongly advocated for a federal “public option” health insurance plan. At the time, it was drafted as part of his incoming administration’s response to the pandemic.

“Low-income Americans will be automatically enrolled in the public option at zero cost, although they can opt out at any time,” the Democrats promised in their party platform.

But since Biden entered office, it has become cricket. The President has not uttered the phrase “public option” since December 2020, According to Factba.seWhich tracks their public comments.

Why Endangered Act? In a word: politics.

“On the outside you will have a very powerful lobby against the public option – the hospitals – because the providers stand to lose the most: a lot of money,” he said. Matthew Fiedleran economist Brookings Institution Which has studied payment disparities between insurance plans. The health care industry is the largest lobbying sector in Washington, with even more $132 million Spent annually only by hospitals and nursing homes, according to open secret,

For those who have forgotten, the idea was to create a government-sponsored insurance plan to compete with commercial insurers under the Affordable Care Act. This concept was first supported by President Barack Obama, It was not included in the final version of the ACA. Because of opposition from almost everyone in health care.

In theory, a public option structured like Medicare, Medicaid or the military’s TRICARE program could save billions in health care spending by both the federal government and consumers because (like existing federal plans) it would allow health providers to pay less than commercial insurers. Will pay less. Fiedler said the public option could potentially save money relative to commercial insurance, even though it pays almost double Medicare’s rates.

And without the need to make a profit, such a plan could spend more money on patient care.

Unsurprisingly, insurers opposed the public option, but Fiedler said it was hospital opposition that held it up.

As an example, Fiedler points to Medicare drug price negotiations, another long-term Democratic priority. Biden made it across the finish line as part of his 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

“Congress didn’t want to take on hospitals, but they’re willing to take on drug companies,” Fiedler said.

Biden’s party has not yet prepared its official platform for the 2024 election, so perhaps the public option will feature again on his agenda. Spokespeople for his re-election campaign and the White House did not respond to emailed queries.

This idea still has many fans: Led by Colorado, some states have sought to create their own versions, although their plans rely on commercial insurers to administer coverage. insurers were able to tank Public option offerings in ConnecticutAnd they complained about it they will lose money Under Colorado’s proposal.

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