What about the Public Option?

Proposals for the Public Option include (a) expanding Medicare to people over 55 and/or (b) allowing a Medicare (or Medicaid) buy-in. Could that be a bridge to a single payer system?


At first glance, the Public Option looks better than what we have now. However, a 2013 study from the Congressional Budget Office  found that it would have a minimal effect in reducing the number of uninsured Americans. One of the benefits of Medicare is that individuals are automatically enrolled once they qualify. Meanwhile, the failure of independent cooperatives in the insurance exchanges suggests what is likely to happen in the case of a Public Option. Moreover, the amount of political organizing that would be required in order to make the Public Option happen would be better spent in pursuit of a single payer system through National Improved Medicare for All. Currently, the Public Option is being advocated for by Democrats with high campaign contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical companies as an excuse for not cosponsoring single payer legislation. Further reading: Jacobin article from PNHP President-Elect Dr. Adam Gaffney