US Senator Schatz reintroduces bill to create public health insurance option

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US Senator Brian Schatz reintroduced the State Public Option Act to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) today reintroduced bicameral legislation to create a Medicaid-based public health insurance option to strengthen the Affordable Care Act in offering Americans a new choice of costs when purchasing health insurance.

The legislation, called the State Public Option Act and co-sponsored by US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), would open up each state’s Medicaid program to anyone who wants it.

“Our ultimate goal here is to ensure that every American has comprehensive health care coverage,” said Senator Schatz.

“Health care is a human right,” added Senator Luján. “For communities to thrive, Americans need quality, affordable health care. A state public option brings us closer to universal coverage for all Americans. “

The State Public Option Act will allow states to create a Medicaid enrollment program for all of their residents, regardless of income, giving everyone the opportunity to join a state-run Medicaid health insurance plan. At least 18 states are considering implementing a public option within their legislatures.

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Medicaid is a popular and cost effective program with an extensive network of providers. The program has the same positive ratings as private insurance, but offers health coverage at a much lower cost. Based on partnerships between state governments and the federal government, Medicaid also gives states the ability to tailor services and models of care to suit their individual needs.

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Even with the advancement of the Affordable Care Act, more than 30 million people are still uninsured. This legislation will help workers who do not have employer-sponsored coverage but who may earn too much money to qualify for grants under the ACA. The bill will also help consumers who live in counties with limited insurance companies or who fear they will soon have options for affordable coverage.

In the Senate, the Schatz-Luján legislation is also co-sponsored by US Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Martin Heinrich ( D-NM), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D- MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

In the House, additional legislation was introduced by U.S. Representatives Kim Schrier (D-WA), Evans (D-PA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Eric Swalwell (D- CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Doris Matsui (D-CA ), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA).

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A summary of the bill is available here. The full text of the law on the state’s public option is available here.


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