The Institute for America’s Future and renowned health care and economics expert, Jacob Hacker, released a report today called: “The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform.” The report explains how the public plan option levels the playing field to allow for access and affordability by reducing costs, without reducing the innovation that can come from the private market. The Key Findings (pdf) of the report state:
A health care system that contains costs and drives value must include a good public plan if the broad goals of reform—universal insurance and improved value—are to be achieved. Private insurance and public insurance have distinct strengths and weaknesses, and thus should be encouraged to compete side by side to attract enrollees on a level playing field that rewards plans that deliver better value and health to their enrollees. Public insurance has a better track record at reining in costs, while preserving access; it has pioneered key quality and payment innovations that have often set the standard for private plans; it is essential to set a standard against which private plans must compete to drive value and can be a source of stability for people. Private plans are a source of new benefit options, and continuing pressure for innovation in benefit design and care management strategies.
HCAN Campaign Director, Richard Kirsch, voiced his support for the report’s conclusion: “Creating a high quality, affordable public plan alternative to private insurance is absolutely essential to achieving comprehensive health care reform solutions that will work for all of us in 2009.” Rep. Pete Stark stated his strong support for the choice of a public plan and HCAN agrees that a health care solution that does not include a public plan would be a non-starter. President-elect Obama also talks about the choice of a public option as a critical part of his plan, saying again and again in his speeches that every American should have a choice of a public plan similar to the health care that every Member of Congress gets.
However, we have seen signs that there will be debate on this issue. Advocates of real health care reform need to make sure that this critical part of the solution is not bargained away in a misguided attempt to placate those who see health care reform as a business opportunity, not a matter of the health of our families and our neighbors. This would be a tragic mistake.
Many of you who have been following Congressional politics for some time now will remember that in recent years, “Mr. Hastert was an advocate of governing the House by a ‘majority of the majority’ – a standard he thought best served the interests of his Republican members and, by extension, the nation.” By that standard on the list of Congressional supporters for the HCAN Statement of Common Purpose, we have a ‘majority of the majority’ supporting the public plan choice. We hope this will allay the fears of anyone who believes that real change can’t happen, because, in fact, this train is already pulling out the station.