May 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Key Democrats to write health care bill that offers public option

Photo of Patty Murray speaking from a podium with Frank Pallone standing behind her
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on Wednesday asked for public input on how to craft a "federally administered public option that provides quality, affordable health coverage throughout the United States."

Why it matters: The push for a public option comes days before PresidentBiden’s first full budget, which reports show will endorse the idea of a public option, but actually falls short of including such a proposal or any kind of analysis of cost.

  • Some Democrats have urged the president to include a public option or lower the age for Medicare eligibility in his American Families Plan.
  • Murray and Pallone lead panels with jurisdiction over health care policy.

What they're saying: In a letter published Wednesday, Murray and Pallone ask for feedback on issues including plan eligibility, benefits to offer and the role of states in administering health care.

  • Their goal "is to work towards achieving universal coverage, while making health care simpler and more affordable for patients and families."
  • "Health care affordability remains a challenge for many American families despite the fact that the United States spends more on health care than any other country," they write.

The big picture: Health care spending in the U.S. is nearly double the average amount spent by other comparable high-income countries on a per-person basis, according to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker.

  • Despite running for office on the promise of creating a Medicare-like plan, Biden has opted to expand access to plans under the Affordable Care Act for now, per CNBC.
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