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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

State and local Democrats are embracing a bigger role for public insurance programs — or at least, they want to be seen as embracing a bigger role for public insurance programs.

Driving the news: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio put together an extensive media rollout yesterday for what he billed as a revolutionary plan to “guarantee health care for every New Yorker,” through a locally run public option.

  • Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee also announced his own plan for a statewide public option.
  • A day earlier, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for expanding the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies in his state.
  • Democrats in Colorado’s legislature are also eyeing a public insurance option.
  • A handful of other states — most notably New Mexico — are also expected to look seriously at Medicaid buy-in proposals this year.

Yes, but: Some of these plans aren’t as Earth-shattering as they may seem.

  • De Blasio’s pitch, for example, largely seems to either extend or simply reiterate the availability of existing programs.
  • Details about Inslee’s proposed public option are also patchy.

The big picture: The political calculus here is a lot more clear than the policy. If you’re a Democrat, especially a progressive Democrat, especially a progressive Democrat with at least some national profile or ambition, you want to be on the side of expanding access to public insurance programs.

  • This is an echo of “Medicare for All” — a popular political alignment with a whole lot of policy debates and decisions still to come.
  • But having some work left to do on policy isn’t the end of the world.
  • States’ efforts to set up new programs, or to expand access to Medicaid, will help inform a lot of future decisions about what’s most effective and most politically feasible.
  • That will shape other states’ efforts, as well as the 2020 campaign.

Go deeper: Newsom wants to expand ACA subsidies in California

Go deeper

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

44 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.