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Delgado Pushes Bill For A Public Option Health Plan

Congressman Antonio Delgado
Antonio Delgado, official portrait, 116th Congress
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public domain

With the backdrop of President Trump vowing to do away with the Affordable Care Act, freshman New York Congressman Antonio Delgado has introduced legislation to create a public health care option under the ACA. The Democrat discussed the bill this week.

Delgado, who represents the sprawling 19th District, says the Medicare-X Choice Act creates a public option health plan for individuals and small business exchanges.

“This bill by allows us to achieve universal coverage by combining Medicare physician networks and reimbursement rates with ACA coverage standards to create a new public option available to all Americans,” Delgado says. “And this, critically, it would also allow folks who are happy with their employer-provided insurance to keep it.”

Delgado says it’s a reintroduction of a bill with fellow Democrats Brian Higgins of New York’s 26th District and John Larson of Connecticut. The Rhinebeck resident says introducing such legislation has been a top priority.

“To me, in looking at the bill, it aligns with everything that I talked about in terms of making sure we identify a path that is achievable, that brings us to a place to where we are no longer the only developed country in the world without some form of universal health care,” Delgado says.

Delgado has held 11 town halls since taking office and says that in practically all of them, constituents have voiced concern about the rising cost of prescription drugs, health care premiums and deductibles.

“To me, to be able to both run on a public option and then become a congressman, and one of my first critical pieces of legislation that I could introduce achieves a bill that is a Medicare–X Choice Act which creates a public option, to me, is what it means to deliver,” Delgado says.

He says the bill introduces more choice, more competition in the marketplace, and begins to address the problem of provider shortages in rural areas. If enacted, beginning in 2021, the Medicare-X plan would be available in rural areas of the country where there is only one health insurance provider, or none, on the exchange. The plan will also be available in counties where there is a shortage of health plan options. By 2024, the public option would be available on the individual market and, in 2025, the plan would be an option on the Small Business Health Options Program exchange.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, having taken aim at Delgado in recent weeks, responded that Delgado’s bill would result in more government-run health care leaving folks with worse care at higher costs, and potentially drive private companies out of business. Here’s Delgado in response to a reporter’s question raising similar issues:

“The health insurance industry has not expressed favor with this plan. And I’m not surprised by that,” says Delgado. “Anytime you introduce more competition, anytime you design a health-care bill that is prioritizing those seeking care and making sure that they have affordable options, the status quo is not going to be pleased with that.”

Delgado says he serves his constituents, not insurance companies or drug or pharmaceutical companies. He says the bill also gives Medicare negotiating power with the big pharmaceutical companies.

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