The (Almost) Public Option

Sy Mukherjee reports on the emergence of a government-run option for health insurance in the forthcoming Obamacare exchanges:

The Obama Administration is preparing for the federal government’s impending role as the primary sponsor of two new multistate health insurance plans that will be available for individuals and small businesses to purchase under Obamacare’s statewide insurance exchanges in 2014.

Although they are not exactly the same, the nationwide plans do somewhat resemble the government-run “public option” that some congressional Democrats advocated during the Obamacare debate.

More details via The New York Times:

The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees. [...]

The federal standards will pre-empt state rules in at least one respect: the national health plans will automatically be eligible to compete against other private insurers in the new exchanges, regardless of whether they have been certified as meeting the standards of those exchanges.

The administration has promised to “work cooperatively with states.” But it is unclear whether the government-sponsored plans will have to comply with all state laws and consumer protection standards; whether they will have to comply with state benefit mandates; and whether they will have to pay state fees and taxes levied on other insurers to finance exchange operations. [...]

“Multistate plans have real potential benefits for consumers,” said Ronald F. Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a liberal-leaning consumer group. “But there is also potential trouble if the multistate plans are exempted from some consumer protection standards.”

Of course all of this goes away with a Romney victory. I can't say this enough: if Romney wins, millions upon millions of Americans will either lose their healthcare or will be prevented from receiving it.

  • Stewart Smith

    One of the claims I keep hearing is that some businesses will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars due to being forced to cover insurance costs. Anyone have information that either combats this or provides a better explanation of what will actually happen in this regard?

  • Kerry Reid

    Listen, You Fake Sell-Out Progressives: John Cusack probably has really great insurance and still gets paid a lot of money to make shitty films that nobody wants to see so who cares about anybody else having access? THE FADING MOVIE STAR WANTS HIS RIGHTEOUSGASM OF JUSTICE!!!

    Seriously, as someone who might be able to access the exchanges instead of paying through the nose for an individual plan, this is but one of the reasons that I am working to re-elect President Obama and to get more Dems in Congress. But even if it didn’t benefit me personally, I would still see it as a good thing because it would help make other people’s lives better. Gawds, whatta crappy liberal I am, huh?

    • nicole

      “Fake Sell-Out Progressives”

      That’s how I’ve always thought of them. Miserable asshats that they are.

      • Kerry Reid

        Nicole, after next Tuesday, I hope to tell these useless-as-tits-on-a-boar “progressives” — “Signed, Sealed, Delivered — Up Yours!”

        • nicole

          You and me both, Kerry! FTW!

  • BuffaloBuckeye

    As somone who sees very little/no value in private health insurance, a government sponsored optionis goodnews, indeed.

  • SlapFat

    Of course all of this goes away with a Romney victory.

    So we don’t let that happen. There’s a small but dense amount of time until the election. Use it as efficiently as you can to motivate people.

  • zirgar

    So, shorter: if you don’t have health insurance, but you want to live, vote for Obama.

    • nicole

      damn, zirgar, you always manage to condense it perfectly.

  • i_a_c

    This was definitely in the bill to begin with. The insurance plans that OPM offers will likely be similar to the ones that federal employees get. They receive a “menu” of private insurance plans to choose from. That’s the biggest difference between the “public option” and the OPM “menu”–these plans are private, but they are operated tightly within federal standards.

    I remember reading about this in the health care negotiations and thinking that this idea was the next best thing to a public option, especially since any public option that would have passed Congress would have been weak and toothless. The OPM insurance plans work wonders for federal employees, and it was very smart to simply expand OPM’s role in negotiating insurance plans. It requires next to no effort to expand something we’re already doing.

    • stacib23

      I remember reading about this in the health care negotiations and thinking that this idea was the next best thing to a public option.

      I remember this, too but when people that are much smarter (and possibly more progressive) than I am were silent, hell, I thought I had misunderstood. I didn’t see a great difference between this and the public option either.

  • IrishGrrrl

    I am one of those millions /she says jumping up and down with arm raised in the air

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Who will be the first wingnut to tweet, “OMG!! Look!! Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare!! OBAMA LIED!!!!!! SOCIALISMMMZZZZ!!!!!” ?

  • The_Dork_Knight

    I don’t get it. How is this different from the public option we all wanted but (reportedly) didn’t get? Secondly, has this always been in the affordable care act? If so, how did we not know this? I’ve known that the Democratic party has (pretty much forever) been terrible at explaining their own polices but for this to be part of the ACA and everyone not know it is bizarre.

    • Bob Cesca

      Clever, eh? Sometimes the songs are between the notes.

    • nicole

      The emoprogs were the only ones on huffpost who sloughed it off, and made it sound like anything but. In your case, that’s probably why.

      • The_Dork_Knight

        Charming as ever Nicole. Thanks for my FDA recommended dose of spite, bile and pettiness. :0)

        • nicole

          Your usual bullshit, TDK, spiked with a dose of emoprog stupid.

          You’re welcome.

          • The_Dork_Knight

            You can pretend that your problem with me has anything to do with my political views, but given that we agree 95 percent of the time it’s clear that that isn’t it. We really are on the same side. No, your (oddly lingering) hatred of me has to do soley with me calling you out on how you treat people. You’re a sad, angry little woman and you have my pity. See ya around.

          • nicole


            Tedious and annoying.




            Never really supportive of Obama.

            See ya *waves*