WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), along with 22 of their colleagues, introduced a Senate resolution calling for a public option in the health insurance market.
“The Affordable Care Act has already expanded health coverage to millions who were previously uninsured and given countless Americans greater peace of mind. We should build on this success by driving competition and holding insurance companies accountable with a public, Medicare-like option available to every American,” said Merkley.
“Rather than refighting old political battles and trying to put insurance companies back in charge, Republicans should join Democrats in expanding choice for consumers by supporting a public health insurance option. We need more competition in the insurance markets, not less, and this plan would help reduce costs and provide consumers with more affordable options when it comes to their health insurance,” said Schumer.
“The passage of the Affordable Care Act was an important step toward making health care more affordable and accessible, but it shouldn't be the last step we take. I believe that there should be a public option in our insurance marketplaces to help reduce premiums, compete with the insurance companies so that consumers are put first, and give working families across the country more affordable choices,” said Murray.
“Ensuring that everybody in America has access to quality affordable health care is something that generations of leaders have worked toward. The Affordable Care Act was a massive step toward that goal, but it’s critical that we continue to push until we achieve it. A public option would get us there by increasing competition and accountability in the health insurance market and saving taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Durbin.
“The Affordable Care Act has made great progress in helping millions of people get access to health insurance. But at a time when 29 million people are still uninsured and 31 million are underinsured we must continue to make needed health care reforms so that the American people can have health care as a right, not a privilege. 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,” said Sanders.
Specifically, the resolution states support for efforts “to build on the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that, in addition to the coverage options provided by private insurers, every American has access to a public health insurance option which, when established, will strengthen competition, improve affordability for families by reducing premiums and increasing choices, and save American taxpayers billions of dollars.”
In addition to Merkley, Schumer, Murray, Durbin and Sanders, the resolution is cosponsored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The full text of the resolution follows below.
Supporting efforts to increase competition and accountability in the health insurance marketplace, and extend accessible, quality, affordable health care coverage to every American through the choice of a public insurance plan.
In the Senate of the United States, Mr. MERKLEY (for himself, Mr. SCHUMER, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. SANDERS, Mrs. STABENOW, Mrs. BOXER, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. FRANKEN, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. UDALL, Mr. WYDEN, Mr. BROWN, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, Mr. MURPHY, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. REED, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr. CASEY, Mr. MARKEY, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Mr. BENNET, Mrs. BALDWIN, Mrs. WARREN, Mr. PETERS and Mr. SCHATZ) submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Purpose: Supporting efforts to increase competition and accountability in the health insurance marketplace, and advance the goal of accessible, quality, affordable health care for everyone in America as a basic human right by offering the choice of a public insurance plan.
Whereas under the Affordable Care Act, 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage, including 11 million individuals that have coverage on the public exchanges created by the law;
Whereas the uninsured rate is at its lowest point in history; however, there is still more work to be done to provide access to coverage for Americans that remain uninsured and reduce deductibles and out of pocket costs for the 31 million Americans currently underinsured;
Whereas before the Affordable Care Act millions of individuals with pre-existing conditions were denied health coverage by insurance companies that controlled who received care in the United States;
Whereas profound disparities persist in health outcomes based on race, ethnicity, and geography, and nearly four million adults, disproportionately people of color, lack coverage as a result of the failure of 19 states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act;
Whereas public insurance options for workers’ compensation insurance have resulted in lower rates for small businesses and more competition in several states;
Whereas giving all Americans the choice of a public, nonprofit health insurance option would lead to increased competition, reduced premiums, cut wasteful spending on administration, marketing, and executive pay, and ensure consumers have the affordable choices they deserve;
Whereas establishing a state-based public health insurance plan is possible today through the use of State Innovation Waivers as created by the Affordable Care Act which allow states to promote unique, creative and innovative approaches to implementing meaningful health care reform including a public option;
Whereas public programs like Medicare often deliver care more cost-effectively by limiting administrative overhead and securing better prices from providers;
Whereas the Congressional Budget Office has found that a public health insurance option would save taxpayers billions of dollars;
Resolved, that the Senate supports efforts—
to build on the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that, in addition to the coverage options provided by private insurers, every American has access to a public health insurance option which, when established, will strengthen competition, improve affordability for families by reducing premiums and increasing choices, and save American taxpayers billions of dollars.