Return of the Public Option…Really?

In response to my dismissal of Bernie Sander’s campaign for the presidency, my best friend and mentor advised, “Never underestimate an old man with a sociology degree.”  True that.  The candidate with the socialist agenda is the fancy of voting women and young democrats around our nation.  If Sanders does what everyone expects him to do at the convention in July, the Democratic Party most assuredly will woo his supporters by moving to the left on many platform issues, including the adoption of some version of his Medicare-for-all proposal.

Secretary Clinton got the message, and she isn’t waiting for the convention to move leftward on health care reform.  She recently went on record in support of opening Medicare as an option for those Americans who want it but are not currently eligible.

And remember the Public Option?  It was stricken from the ACA legislation to garner then-Senator Joe Lieberman’s much-needed vote of approval.  Had it been left in the legislation, our government would be competing with commercial health plans in the private insurance market.  While Clinton’s support of the Public Option is neither new nor news, her recent promotion of a new version of this defeated plan is.  She understands the folly, though, of asking a divided Congress to approve it or a Medicare option.  So, a President Clinton (2.0) would use the authorities of her office and the Affordable Care Act to work with interested governors to allow states to create and operate Public Option-style health insurance plans.

And why wouldn’t states jump at the chance?  Many would be motivated to use a Public Option-style plan to cure the ills caused by the lukewarm, uneven and often contentious participation of commercial plans in their ACA Exchanges.  And at eight percent, health insurance premium rate hikes are returning to their pre-great recession levels.  Moreover, consumers are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks, as out-of-pocket expenses for health care have almost doubled in some parts of our nation since the ACA was enacted.

Lastly, I’m thinking that it’s a sure bet that our left-leaning, program expansion-oriented California Legislature would be one of the first to create a government-run private health insurance plan if a Clinton Administration gives the go-ahead.   Covered California is ready-made and poised to run with the task.  And while you’re thinking about the possibilities, brush up on your knowledge about Single-Payer health insurance systems…because that’s where all this is headed.

So, what about the Republican Party?  What will it and a President Trump do?  I don’t learn, I guess, so I dismiss “The Donald” like I did Sanders, to which my mentor responds with a modified Reagan favorite, “There you go again!”

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I am interested in your thoughts on this, as I plan to opine more as the general election nears.  Please send them to me, Jim Lott, at [email protected]