The Atlantic

Can Democrats Revive the Possibility of a Public Option for Health Care?

Senator Brian Schatz is introducing legislation that gives states the option of allowing anyone to buy into Medicaid. Will the party’s progressive wing embrace it?
Source: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Ever since a so-called “public option” failed to pass as part of the Affordable Care Act, there hasn’t been much talk in Washington about setting up a government-run health-insurance plan that could compete with private insurers. Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii wants to change that.

On Wednesday, Schatz is introducing legislation that would allow states to set up their own public option by expanding Medicaid, the insurance program paid for by both the federal and state governments that currently covers low-income individuals, to any American who wants to buy into it.

The legislation joins a growing list of ideas offered up by congressional Democrats as they try to make an appealing pitch to voters about what they would do if they ever win back the House, Senate, and the presidency.

It’s not the only public option proposal: Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Michael Bennet recently introduced what they described as “Medicare-X,”

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