March 24, 2023 | Updates

ICYMI: States Continue to Hit Roadblocks with Public Option

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As talks of a federal public option recede, states like Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Connecticut are trudging forward with bills to create a state government-controlled public option or similar, unaffordable programs.  

Key Takeaway: Initial results from Washington state and Colorado’s failed attempts show that the public option is ineffective at reducing health care costs and will not increase access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care for Americans.  

Axios’ Arielle Dreher points out: 

  • “The public option was supposed to resemble government-run health care for moderates uncomfortable with “Medicare for All.” But it flopped on the first try in Washington state and is drawing meager interest there and in Colorado.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
    • “But while President Biden campaigned on a federal version, there’s been little follow-up — and in states it’s “one of many choices” to expand coverage and lower costs…” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
  • “Washington state’s first-in-the-nation public option launched in 2019 but hit obstacles when insurers didn’t voluntarily contract with the state and offer plans in each county.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
    • “With big geographic gaps in plan availability, the state put more requirements on hospitals to contract with plans. But only 27,000 residents selected a public option plan for the 2023 plan year.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
  • “Colorado tried to avoid the Washington experience by launching a public option this winter and requiring insurers to offer three tiers of service in all counties where they offer individual or small-employer plans.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
    • “Approximately 35,000 Coloradans have enrolled and “the Colorado Association of Health Plans estimates the lion’s share of its members won’t meet those targets, and that insurance regulators set too generous benefits as the standard package, driving up premiums.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 
  • Insurers and providers aren’t going to willingly cooperate with programs that threaten their profits and revenues.” (Axios, 3/24/23) 

Research continues to show that building on and improving what’s working in health care is the best path forward in health care. Today, a majority of Americans (67%) support fixing the current system rather than creating a public option, according to recent polling. Most Americans (76%), including Democrats (67%), are also unwilling to pay more in order to create a new government-controlled health insurance system.    



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