The “Public Option” That Isn’t: How Washington Governor Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine Got It So Wrong
“The public health insurance option, also known as the public insurance option or the public option, is a proposal to create a government-run health insurance agency that would compete with other private health insurance companies within the United States.” [source]
Before I begin, I would like to first say that I am not in favor of a public option. A public option, much like the ACA (Obamacare), keeps private insurers in business and does not reduce administrative costs nearly as much as a single payer, universal healthcare, Medicare for All system. However, I at least know what a public option is.
The current proponents of Washington State’s “public option” bill like Governor Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine apparently don’t. Here is how they are saying their bill will work:
“The Health Care Authority will contract with one or more health carriers to offer qualified health plans on the Exchange. Beginning in 2021, all carriers offering plans inside the Exchange must offer a standard plan at any tier in which they offer at least one plan. Non-standard plans may be offered on the exchange through 2024. Beginning in 2025 only standard plans will be offered on the Exchange.” [source]
Got that? It is private insurance companies offering plans on the exchange. Not creation of a government-run health plan. Not even private insurers competing with a public plan as a public option would. Just further privatization of our already horrible for-profit healthcare system.
It goes on:
“The Health Benefit Exchange, in consultation with the Health Care Authority, must develop a plan to implement and fund premium subsidies for families and individuals on the Exchange who need financial assistance. The goal is to have consumers spend no more than 10 percent of their income on premiums.”
Well, that sounds nice doesn’t it? Except obviously, it is not so nice. IF you qualify for this plan, and who exactly qualifies is still unclear, private insurance companies can still gouge you on co-pays and deductibles. Most of us under-insured people can afford our premiums (barely) but the deductibles are *literally* killing us.
Washington State voters want universal healthcare: 64% of us do, in fact. And 522,000 Washington residents have no healthcare coverage. It is in the Washington State Democratic Party Platform that healthcare is a human right. Last year an all volunteer effort in Washington (the I-1600 campaign) gathered over 100,000 signatures for universal healthcare. So why are Democrats in our state proposing anything other than the real thing?
If you believe, as I do, that we need to join the rest of the developed world by offering guaranteed coverage for everyone, not based on income, employment, or previous health history, please volunteer for Whole Washington.
Whole Washington along with National Nurses United is planning barnstorms in Washington to get our representatives on board with National Medicare for All. Additionally, we will take this fight to the state legislature and to the people with an initiative if the legislature fails again to act. Canada passed single payer one province at a time: let’s be the Saskatchewan of the US! Join us today.
Georgia Davenport, Whole Washington Campaign Director and 33rd Legislative District Democrats Washington State Democratic Central Committee Representative
After you sign, you can contact Governor Inslee and your legislative district representative by calling the following numbers:
- Governor Jay Inslee: 360–902–4111
- Washington State Representatives: 360–786–7573