May 26, 2021

Whitehouse, Brown Cheer New Public Option Push

Senators have championed public option legislation in the Senate since leading efforts to include it in the ACA

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the announcement today by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) of plans to develop a bill to establish a public option for health coverage. Whitehouse and Brown led efforts to include a public option in the Affordable Care Act, and have introduced public option legislation in every Congress since.

“We’re pleased the chairs of Congress’s health care committees have committed to a public option,” Whitehouse and Brown said. “This is a simple but powerful idea: establish a low-cost plan in every marketplace in the country to guarantee good-quality coverage with competitive premiums. COVID-19 exposed too many American workers without health insurance to the choice of doing their job and risking a deadly illness, or staying safe at home and worrying about covering their expenses. For over a decade, we have fought for a public option to close the gaps in our health insurance market that force Americans into such terrible situations. Now’s the time to pass this idea into law.”

Murray and Pallone issued a Request for Information (RFI) as they begin to work with their colleagues who have put forward public option proposals of their own to craft new comprehensive legislation. Health care stakeholders and members of the public are encouraged to submit ideas to the two committees by July 31 through the process described in the RFI.

The Affordable Care Act set up health insurance marketplaces to make it easier for consumers to shop for health insurance and to drive insurers to compete on the price and quality of their plans. The marketplaces have been extremely effective in helping to expand coverage. While President Biden and Democrats in Congress have passed the American Rescue Plan to expand the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million Americans are still uninsured. An additional way to combat the rising uninsured rate is to stimulate competition to drive down prices, especially in areas of the country with few insurers. A public option would do so.

Whitehouse and Brown’s CHOICE Act, S.983, introduced in March, would create a public option subject to the same requirements that apply to other plans offered on Affordable Care Act exchanges. It would offer the same premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available to individual marketplace consumers.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921