NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The "Public Option:" Obamacare's Last Bailout

August 12, 2016

Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes in NCPA's Health Blog:

Most Americans disapprove of Obamacare. In a poll conducted in July by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which supports the goals of Obamacare, 46 percent of respondents disapproved of the law while only 40 percent approved. The first poll was conducted in April 2010, when Obamacare was fresh off the press. Then, 46 percent of the public favored the new law, while 40 percent opposed. In July 2010, half of respondents voiced support for the law. In the mind of the American public, that was Obamacare's high-water mark. It has been downhill since then.

Nevertheless, Obamacare's proponents insist it is going quite well. In a remarkable development, JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the medical profession, published an advocacy piece by President Obama himself in its august pages. Obama reluctantly acknowledges price competition and choice in Obamacare exchanges might not have worked out quite as well as advertised. His proposed solution would be a so-called "public option" in regions where few health insurers compete.

Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, has also recently endorsed a public option. The public option is a throwback to Democratic health reform proposals before Obamacare. During the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, it was Senator Obama who proposed a public option and Senator Clinton who dismissed it as unworkable.

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