U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Public Option for Affordable Care Act

As Trump Administration Renews Push for Total Affordable Care Act Repeal, Baldwin Supports Expanding Access to Quality Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Department of Justice refuses to defend the law that has extended quality health insurance coverage to over 20 million Americans, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, helped introduce the Consumer Health Options and Insurance Competition Enhancement (CHOICE) Act. This legislation would add a publicly operated health insurance option to the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces.

“Wisconsinites have sent a clear message to Washington that they want us to expand access to health care and lower costs. As President Trump and Attorney General Barr are trying to take people’s health care away, raise costs and wipe away protections for people with pre-existing conditions, I’m working to make sure Wisconsinites have more options for quality health insurance coverage at a price they can afford,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to support this legislation that would give Wisconsin families and patients another choice for quality, affordable health care coverage.”

The legislation was introduced by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Republicans are actively working through the court system to take health insurance away from 20 million Americans, after failing to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act in Congress,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Rather than throw out a system that is working well in Rhode Island and places across the country, we’re proposing simple fixes to increase competition and bring down costs.  A public option ensures everyone has access to quality, affordable health insurance, and builds on the gains we’ve made.”

“Instead of ripping coverage away from people the way President Trump’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act would do, we should be working to expand healthcare for everyone. This bill would give people the choice to join a Medicare-like plan if they want, and it would help lower costs for everyone by increasing competition in the market,” said Senator Brown.

“I have advocated for a public option since I helped to write the Affordable Care Act in the 111th Congress, and I’m proud to reintroduce the CHOICE Act today with Senators Whitehouse and Brown, and many of my colleagues. This bill builds on the solid foundation created by the ACA instead of tearing it down, as Republicans have aimed to do through their actions over the past week,” said Schakowsky, a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Adding a public option just makes sense. It means more choice for individuals, families, and small businesses; lower premiums; and greater access to the ACA’s benefits and protections. That is why a majority of Americans support a public option. Who opposes it? Insurance companies who care more about profits than individual health care costs and operate in many markets with little or even no competition.”

The Affordable Care Act set up health insurance marketplaces to make it easier for consumers to shop for health insurance and to drive insurers to compete on the price and quality of their plans.  The marketplaces have been extremely effective in helping to expand coverage. While the rate of uninsured Americans has fallen significantly since 2010, it is currently at a four-year high as a result of the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the law. One way to combat the rising uninsured rate is to stimulate competition to drive down prices, especially in areas of the country with few insurers.

The CHOICE Act would create a public option subject to the same requirements that apply to other plans offered on Obamacare exchanges. It would offer the same premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available to individual marketplace consumers. 

The Trump administration filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit last week calling for the federal courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. This week, Senator Baldwin and all 47 Senate Democrats introduced a Senate resolution that calls on the Trump administration to reverse its position on repealing the entire Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this year, Senator Baldwin introduced the Medicare at 50 Act to give people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old the option of buying into Medicare. Baldwin also helped reintroduce the State Public Option Act that would 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.