Healthcare

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. 

{mosads}The effort is led by senators including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on track to be the next Democratic leader, and Bernie Sanders (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 Merkley (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 Clinton 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 Murray (Wash.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Al Franken (Minn.). 

Tags Al Franken Barbara Boxer Bernie Sanders Chuck Schumer Debbie Stabenow Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Hillary Clinton Jeff Merkley Patty Murray Sheldon Whitehouse

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video