Introducing a Medicare & Medicaid Public Option

We need a public option such as Medicare and Medicaid offered through the Affordable Care Act to increase coverage and lower costs so every person living in Texas can afford to see a doctor when they need one. There are many possible paths to reaching universal coverage, and this week, I co-led efforts to introduce Medicare-X and Medicaid public option legislation that is a step in the right direction.

The Medicare-X Choice Act of 2017 (H.R. 4094) would increase competition in the individual market and give American families an option that is low in cost but high in quality. It does so by building on the Medicare framework to establish a public insurance plan offered on individual and small business health exchanges. While this public option plan would initially target counties with few or no insurers and providers, it would later become available across the country where it could be purchased on the marketplace.

The Medicare-X Choice Act of 2017 fits neatly within the ACA’s marketplaces and Medicare’s network of doctors. In fact, it would use Medicare’s doctors, allow patients to be seen at the offices and hospitals that Medicare covers and require similar reimbursement rates. Additionally, Medicare-X guarantees coverage of the essential health benefits established in the ACA. This includes maternity care, mental health services, pediatrics and others. It also ensures access to affordable prescription drugs.

Earlier this month, Senators Tim Kaine (VA) and Michael Bennet (CO) introduced companion legislation (S.1970) in the Senate where it currently has seven co-sponsors.

The State Public Option Act would create a Medicaid-based public health care option on the insurance marketplace. This will expand the availability of low-cost, high-quality health plans by establishing a state public option through Medicaid. Too many families currently make too much to qualify for Medicaid while not making enough to afford healthcare. This bill would allow states to create a Medicaid buy-in program for all residents regardless of income. It currently has more than 30 cosponsors in both the House and Senate.