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Shaheen Introduces Bill to Create Public Health Care Option & Provide High-Quality, Low-Cost Insurance Options

(Washington, DC) —U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to reintroduce the State Public Option Act yesterday, bicameral legislation to create a Medicaid-based public health care option to strengthen the Affordable Care Act by providing Americans with a new high-quality, low-cost choice when purchasing health insurance.

“Every Granite Stater should be able to access high-quality medical coverage that they can afford, regardless of their income,” said Shaheen. “Creating a public health care option would provide flexibility for families while simultaneously lowering costs. This legislation would help to make sure that every Granite Stater can afford to get covered and get access to the care they need.”

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.

Even with the progress of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 30 million people remain uninsured. This legislation will help workers who do not have employer-sponsored coverage but may make too much to qualify for subsidies under the ACA. The bill will also help consumers who live in counties with only one insurance carrier or who worry they may soon have no options for affordable coverage.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), 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), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

In the House, the bill has 39 cosponsors including Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02).