Durbin, Schakowsky, Krishnamoorthi Introduce Legislation To Expand Access To Health Care By Creating Public Option

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-08-IL) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-03) to introduce the State Public Option Act to create a Medicaid-based public health care option to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and provide Americans with a new high-quality, low-cost health care choice that will move our system toward universal coverage.

“In the last nine years, the ACA has made progress to reform America’s health care system, but we must do more to help cover 30 million Americans who remain uninsured,” said Durbin.  “The State Public Option Act will help expand health care options so that everyone has an opportunity to find affordable coverage.  While the current Administration works to do everything they can to tear down the ACA, this bill will advance the fundamental right of affordable and accessible health care for all Americans.”

“With a new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and J.B. Pritzker in the Governor’s Mansion, I am glad we can finally work on building upon the Affordable Care Act instead of fighting endless Republican attempts to tear it down,” said Schakowsky.  “We need bold ideas to strengthen our health care system and reach the goal of universal coverage in the United States.  The State Public Option Act is one of those ideas, and I am proud to support a bill that will expand access to care and lower health care costs across the nation.  Governor Pritzker has already indicated he will promote a Medicaid buy-in program in Illinois, and I will work towards passage of this bill in Congress.”

“As we pursue the goal of universal health care coverage, we need to strengthen and build upon the success of the ACA by allowing each state to establish a Medicaid buy-in program,” said Krishnamoorthi.  “With 30 million Americans still living without insurance coverage, this public option will expand access to quality, affordable care, and I’m heartened by Governor Pritzker’s embrace of promoting a Medicaid buy-in program in Illinois.”

The State Public Option Act will allow states to create a Medicaid buy-in program for all their residents regardless of income, giving everyone the option to buy into a state-driven Medicaid health insurance plan.  At least 14 states are exploring implementing a Medicaid public option within their legislatures.  A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found broad, bipartisan support for a Medicaid public option.  Medicaid is a popular and cost-effective program with a large provider network.  The program has the same positive ratings as private insurance, but provides health coverage at a much lower cost.  Based on partnerships between state and federal governments, Medicaid also gives states the flexibility to adapt services and models of care based on their individual needs.

Along with Durbin and Schatz, the following Senators also cosponsored the State Public Option Act: U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Murphy (D-CN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie K. Hirono (D- HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

In the House, along with Representatives Schakowsky, Krishnamoorthi, and Luján, the following Representatives also cosponsored this bill: U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-03-OR), Andre Carson (D-07-IN), David Cicilline (D-01-RI), Katherine Clark (D-05-MA), Yevette Clarke (D-09-NY), Steve Cohen (D-09-TN), T.J. Cox (D-21-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-11-CA), Mike Doyle (D-18-PA), Eliot Engel (D-16-NY), Marcia Fudge (D-11-OH), Ruben Gallego (D-7-AZ), John Garamendi (D-03-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-20-FL), Katie Hill (D-25-CA), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Pramila Jayapal (D-07-WA) Ro Khanna (D-17-CA), Ann M. Kuster (D-02-NH), Doris Matsui (D-05-CA), Betty McCollum (D-04-MN), Grace Napolitano (D-31-CA), Joe Neguse (D-02-CO), Ilhan Omar (D-05-MN), Ed Perlmutter (D-07-CO), Mark Pocan (D-02-WI), Harley Rouda (D-48-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40-CA), Adam Schiff (D-28-CA), Kim Schrier (D-08-WA), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-41-CA), Paul Tonko (D-20-NY), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-07-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Susan Wild (D-07-PA).