November 20, 2019 | Updates

ICYMI: ‘The Public Option Leaves American Families With Fewer Options’

WASHINGTON – In a new op-ed for The Hill, Lauren Crawford Shaver, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, highlights a recent study from FTI Consultingwhich provides the latest reminder “that the public option would eliminate private coverage options through the marketplaces for millions of Americans ultimately leading to the same one-size-fits-all system controlled by politicians.”  She writes:

… The study … finds that the public option would cause millions of Americans to lose their current coverage and could result in the loss of all other private plans in the individual market.  According to the study, “[i]n the first year following introduction of the public option, over 130,000 Americans enrolled in ACA coverage would be forced off of their existing health plan.  Over a decade, up to two million enrollees could experience a loss of private coverage as insurers exit the marketplaces.”  At the end of that decade, over 7 million Americans would no longer have their private coverage through the marketplaces.

… The eventual elimination of private health coverage because of the public option will come as news to many, but advocates of this type of system have admitted that it would bring about the “slow death” of employer-provided and other private coverage and serve as an “on ramp to a single-payer system.”  This includes presidential candidates who have stated that the public option “will be a very natural glide path to the single payer environment.” Economists, meanwhile, warn that the public option would “mainly erode, or ‘crowd out,’ private insurance, rather than provide coverage to the uninsured.”  And a previous study by KNG Health Consulting, LLC found that Medicare for America, a public option style proposal, could force one-third of American workers off of their current employer provided health care coverage.

The public option would also hit rural families – many of whom already find their access and quality of care at risk – especially hard. The new FTI study finds that rural patients “may find few, if any, options for private insurance in the marketplaces.  This in turn could create a ‘two-tier’ health system where employer-based insurance provides access to a different set of hospitals or services than could be accessed through the public option, exacerbating health disparities and harming the very population the ACA was designed to help.”

Other recent studies have also pointed to the dire consequences to patients’ access to quality care under government-controlled systems like the public option, as hospitals would be forced to offer less care or even shut their doors entirely.  According to a study by Navigant Consulting, the public option could put more than 1,000 rural U.S. hospitals – which serve more than 60 million Americans – “at high risk of closure.”  And a study from KNG Consulting found that “[f]or hospitals, the introduction of a public plan that reimburses providers using Medicare rates would compound financial stresses they are already facing, potentially impacting access to care and provider quality.”

The public option would also burden families and our economy with unaffordable new costs.  Yet another KNG study finds that instead of addressing rising health care costs, it “would increase total health care spending, with the largest spending increases occurring among those who already had public coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.”  Americans’ premiums could sky-rocket and experts have noted that a public option system “could prove costly.”

Like Medicare for All, the public option would ultimately force American families into a one-size-fits-all government health insurance system that would force them to pay more and wait longer for worse care.  With roughly 90 percent of Americans already covered and millions more eligible for coverage under our current system, lawmakers should instead work together to build on what is working and fix what isn’t – not start over.

  • To read Lauren Crawford Shaver’s full op-ed, CLICK HERE.



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