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Senator sizes up the new ACA ‘public option’ push (with video)

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Bernie Sanders’s strong performance in the Democratic presidential primary may be one reason Democrats are talking more about creating a government-run “public option” health program.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) says worries about weak 2017 Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange plan menus may be another reason for the new talk about a public option program.

Cassidy talked about the politics behind the new Medicare-for-all push last week in New Orleans, in an appearance at the Health Agents for America meeting. Cassidy was at the meeting to round up support for an ACA revamp proposal he developed with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Related: 3 reasons Congress could approve an ACA change bill (with video)

Up until now, Cassidy said, Democrats have resisted making even modest changes in the ACA.

“It’s going to change now,” Cassidy said. “You know this because even President Obama has begun to speak of providing a public option. Reviving the public option is a tacit acknowledgement that there are going to be many states that will either have one on-the-exchange carrier, or maybe none.”

Jim Donelon, the Louisiana insurance commissioner, said at the HAFA meeting, in a separate session, that he believes some states could end up with one surviving supplier of individual health coverage.

Cassidy said that he believes single-carrier markets could give way to markets that offer a public option, and that the era of the public option program could soon give way to a government-run, single-payer health care system in which regulators ban private competition with the single-payer coverage provider.


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