March 1, 2023 | Updates

ICYMI: State Government-Controlled Public Option Systems Continue to Struggle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington state’s government-controlled public option is not delivering the promise of increased access to affordable, high-quality health care coverage. Similarly on the federal level, sweeping unaffordable, government-controlled proposals like Medicare for All look increasingly unlikely to be taken up in Congress, due to their unpopularity with both voters and lawmakers.   

Key Takeaway: This is another example of how unaffordable, government-controlled proposals like Medicare for All and the public option are not the path forward towards an accessible health care system for all Americans. 

In a recent Forbes op-ed, Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes pointed out: 

  • “To keep premiums low, [Cascade Care plans] pay providers no more than 160% of what Medicare does—lower than the 174% that other plans on the state’s exchanges pay, on average.” 
  • “State officials gambled that providers would accept low payments in exchange for a guaranteed flow of patients with the public option plan. They’re losing that bet.” (Forbes, 2/13/23) 
  • “The state is forcing hospitals to accept the public option’s low payment rates, even if those rates don’t cover their costs.” (Forbes, 2/13/23) 

Additionally, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently made the following comments on plans for Medicare for All: 

  • Medicare for All, a system that would establish government-run health care for all U.S. citizens, ‘ain’t going to happen’ during the next two years.” (The Hill, 2/21/23) 
  • “Members of Congress can still work together during this congressional session to improve health care throughout the country, even though he said no Republicans and only half of congressional Democrats support Medicare for All.” (The Hill, 2/21/23) 

Research continues to show that building on and improving what’s working in health care is the path forward in health care. Recent polling also shows that voters support fixing what we have today more than creating unaffordable, new government-controlled health insurance systems like the public option and Medicare for All.    



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