On Monday, President Barack Obama asked Congress to revisit the idea of providing a government-run health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Plan. This has also been referred to as the “public option.”
President Obama wrote:
‘Now, based on experience with the ADA, I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited.’
Obama also called on Congress to come up with a way to curb the cost of prescription medication and ensure that government assistance is increased for those citizens that can’t afford personal health coverage. The president concurrently encouraged the expansion of Medicaid programs in the 19 states that still haven’t done so.
Much controversy has surrounded the “public option” from the beginning. It was a part of the ACA when the health law was originally passed by the House of Representatives. There was a lot of support by Democratic senators prior to being dropped. But there was still a lingering fear that government insurance running alongside private insurance companies would be entirely too close to a fully government-run health care system, and no one wanted that.
After pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced that she endorses the “public option” in February. Again on Saturday, she even proposed going further than President Obama and said:
‘I will also pursue efforts to give Americans in every state of the country the choice of a public-option insurance plan.’
According to NPR, the “public option” will still be unlikely to happen, even if Clinton ends up in the White House and Democrats retake Congress.
The article written by the president, named “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” was the very first to be published by a sitting president in JAMA.
The president wrote that the administration is working on coverage provisions:
‘The number of uninsured individuals in the United States has declined from 49 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2015.’
In the article, he also points out that the health law played a direct role in slowing health spending.
‘While the Great Recession and other factors played a role in recent trends, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers has found evidence that the reforms introduced by the ACA helped both slow health care costs growth and drive improvements in the quality of care.’
The majority of the president’s article is focused on charts, but he does suggest that progress is being threatened by the current state of politics in Washington.
‘Any change is difficult, but it is especially difficult in the face of hyper-partisanship. Republicans reversed course and rejected their own ideas once they appeared in the text of a bill that I supported.’
It’s been painfully obvious during these last eight years that the Republicans controlling the House has had a major impact on any and all bills the president has supported. That’s why it comes as no surprise that last week, two House committees released a joint investigative report, held two hearings, insisting that funds are being provided illegally to help out low-income individuals pay for health care coverage. Petty acts by a political party that acts more like a group of spoiled children than educated adults.
Featured Image via Getty Images