“At the end of the day, there will be a public option in the bill,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told reporters at an early morning briefing hosted by the Democratic Women’s Working Group and attended by The Wonk Room. Schakowsky predicted that the House would pass a public option and integrate the provision into the the final bill during conference. “I see momentum building,” she said.
Schakowsky pointed to a recent poll commissioned by Health Care for America Now of 91 conservative House swing districts — including many Blue Dog and rural ones — “which concluded that the public option has solid majority support among those voters.” According to the poll, “including a public option is essential to implementing an individual mandate. Voters also already prefer the implementation of a public option, and do not see a need for a trigger.” Greg Sargent has the details:
There’s over-whelming opposition to an individual mandate when the only choices are private insur-ance, but there’s net support for a mandate when people have the choice of a public option. And swing district voters are convinced private sector healthcare has failed to make health care affordable, and prefer the public option now rather than waiting on a trigger option.
Schakowsky said that she supported a ‘robust’ public plan that reimbursed providers a set percentage above Medicare rates, but could not guarantee that this reimbursement formula will be preserved in the final bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “a public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years,” $85 million more than a plan that independently negotiated with providers.
Conservatives argue that Medicare, which pays providers approximately 14 percent lower than private insurers, underpays providers and shifts costs to Americans with private coverage. The bills before Congress would provide bonus payments to primary care doctors and institute payment reforms that will begin rewarding medical providers for the quality of care they deliver rather than quantity.