Jan 9, 2019

More Democrats are supporting public insurance programs

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

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 859,796 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 189,618 — Total deaths: 4,079 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
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NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Tuesday of plans to triple hospital bed numbers to combat the novel coronavirus by transforming facilities into makeshift hospitals — including U.S. Open tennis courts.

The big picture: The city now accounts for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said the city had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. "We now need to, in just the next weeks ... produce three times that number," he said.

Go deeperArrow25 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health