Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare

Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare
© Getty Images

Senate Democrats and liberal groups are unveiling a new push to add a public option on ObamaCare on Thursday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The effort is led by senators including Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.), on track to be the next Democratic leader, and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Ex-Sanders campaign manager talks unity efforts with Biden backers The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention MORE (I-Vt.), who galvanized liberals in his presidential campaign with a push to go even further and set up a “Medicare for all” system. Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane MORE (D-Ore.) is spearheading the effort. 

Adding a government-run insurance option, called a public option, to compete with private insurers has long been a goal of liberals. It has received new energy in recent months, as President Obama has called for adding one into the health law in order to address geographic areas with a lack of competition, and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to visit Georgia next week Former NY Rep. Claudia Tenney to face Anthony Brindisi in House rematch Powell takes on Trump over Confederate flag MORE has supported the idea as well. 

A public option has essentially no chance of passing Congress as long as Republicans control one chamber, and even some centrist Democrats are wary

Still, liberal groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.Org and Democracy for America are launching a petition at WeWantAPublicOption.com, in conjunction with a Senate resolution.

“We need more competition in the insurance markets, not less, and a public option would help reduce costs and provide consumers with more affordable options when it comes to their health insurance,” Schumer said in a statement. 

Sanders echoed themes of his campaign, saying that while “the Affordable Care Act has made great progress in helping millions of people get access to health insurance ... Insurance companies have shown they are more concerned with serving their shareholders than their customers. Every American deserves the choice of a public option in health insurance.”

The liberal groups indicated that they will be making advocacy for a public option a priority, along with debt-free college and expanding Social Security. 

The idea of a public option has risen in prominence given that some private insurers are pulling back on ObamaCare participation, leaving some areas of the country, particularly rural ones, with just one insurance option on the law’s marketplaces. 

The other Democratic senators joining the push are Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayGOP Health Committee chair says he disagrees with Trump's WHO decision Lobbying battle brewing over access to COVID-19 vaccine Trump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine MORE (Wash.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown MORE (Ill.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list MORE (Mich.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday MORE (Calif.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinData shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Bottom line Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats MORE (Calif.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list Key Democrat accuses Labor head of 'misleading' testimony on jobless benefits MORE (R.I.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPolitical world mourns loss of comedian Jerry Stiller Maher to Tara Reade on timing of sexual assault allegation: 'Why wait until Biden is our only hope?' Democrats begin to confront Biden allegations MORE (Minn.).