House Dems Push Again for Creation of Government-Run Health Insurance Option

Dozens of House Democrats on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would amend the 2010 healthcare law to create a government-run health insurance option, or a so-called “public option.”

The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act, H.R. 261, was introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), along with 44 other House Democrats.

Congress considered the creation of a government-run healthcare plan during the debate over the healthcare law, but it was eventually removed from the final bill that passed in 2010. Schakowsky says bringing it back would help reduce insurance premiums.

“Obamacare is already helping millions of Americans get the health care they need, but it can be made even better,” she said. “The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act will give health care consumers more choice and lower their premiums.”

Her bill would set up a government-run plan that would provide premiums that are 5 to 7 percent lower than private insurance plans. This, she said, would “put pressure on all insurers to lower their premiums in order to compete.”

Schakowsky added that the Congressional Budget Office has said her bill would cut the budget deficit by $104 billion over 10 years.

The bill would appropriate $2 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to set up a public health insurance plan, and would allow funds to be made available to cover 90 days’ worth of claims. But the bill would require the government to repay this initial funding over a 10-year period.

The bill is similar to one that former Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) introduced at the start of the last Congress; Woolsey has since retired.

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