Congressional Democrats are leaning in the direction of including a “robust” public insurance option that would set reimbursement rates at 5% above what Medicare pays, members of the House Democratic Caucus told reporters.
After emerging from a caucus meeting, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) said the “chemistry was there” to support the robust option in the House health reform bill. Many in the caucus believe it would be the most fiscally responsible approach to a government-run insurance plan.
The public option has caused concern among providers who do not want to be reimbursed at Medicare rates. Andrews said changing Medicare's formula to address geographic disparities in reimbursement would help alleviate these concerns, especially for hospitals in rural areas.
The Congressional Budget Office has been analyzing several ideas for crafting a public option. No one would divulge any new CBO figures on what these options would cost, although Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the robust option would “save $85 billion more over the next-best choice” for a public plan.