* I stripped out the political rhetoric at the beginning and end, but you can click here to read the entire JB Pritzker press release if you want…
I propose a public health insurance option that would allow every Illinois resident the chance to buy low-cost health insurance. I will work with legislators and the health care community to design this public option to provide another choice in the health insurance marketplace, to lower the cost of premiums and mitigate market uncertainty – at no cost to taxpayers.
If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains the law of the land, my plan would provide an important avenue to expand access to affordable healthcare in Illinois. But if Republicans in Washington are successful in repealing ACA, IllinoisCares would become even more necessary and could give Illinois a path to expanded innovative healthcare coverage at the state level.
IllinoisCares would allow Illinois residents to buy into the state’s Medicaid system:
* Because Medicaid is individually administered by states, the program offers a unique opportunity for states to function as laboratories and lead in the creation of progressive healthcare policy.
* With the creation of IllinoisCares, Illinois would be the first state in the nation to expand Medicaid in this manner.
* Medicaid is a lower-cost option than private insurance, giving Illinoisans another choice when faced with rising premiums. It can be offered in every county, as opposed to the dwindling number of plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges in many counties.
* Illinois currently spends about $3,350 per year per adult and $2,108 per child for Medicaid coverage.While an actuarial analysis will have to be completed to set premiums and cost-sharing rates for the program, it is clear that IllinoisCares offers a lower cost option for families compared to those being offered in the private insurance market.
* As a Medicaid buy-in option, IllinoisCares would require Illinoisans who do not receive federal healthcare subsidies to pay premiums to cover the full cost of Medicaid coverage. As a result, there should be no additional cost to taxpayers for this program.
* Participants who qualify for ACA tax credits could use those to help pay for their premiums.
* IllinoisCares would be designed to encourage healthy young adults as well as older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare to participate and would help ensure a robust patient mix.
* IllinoisCares could allow for affordable deductibles and copays as well as open enrollment and special enrollment periods, which are all standard features that keep plans affordable and stable in the private insurance market.
In the event of full repeal of the ACA, I will work to make sure IllinoisCares gives all Illinoisans affordable health insurance, and will enact patient protections so that Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions will not be discriminated against in healthcare coverage.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Pawar campaign…
Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward alderman and Democratic candidate for Illinois governor, released the following statement after J.B. Pritzker suggested a policy proposal that would limit Illinoisans to a public option healthcare model:
“A public healthcare option for Illinois doesn’t go far enough to provide quality healthcare for everyone while lessening the burdens put on working families and small businesses. Illinois needs a single-payer healthcare system, and as Governor, I will take the steps to get us there.
“For far too long, government has perpetuated a culture of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving.’ Healthcare is a human right and single payer healthcare will deliver quality affordable care to every Illinoisan. Single-payer is about making our society a better place. It’s about putting people over profits. Single-payer is about doing the right thing.
“We need to elect more leaders who will advocate for a system that guarantees health care for all people, helps working families get the care they need while saving small businesses money that otherwise would be paid to big insurance companies.”
A single-payer system would allow healthcare providers to operate with far greater efficiency, meaning that more money is being spent on actual care than our current system allows. Medicare has a 2 percent overhead rate - that’s a remarkably efficient program, allowing significant savings that private insurance companies would be making in profit instead of passing along to the people. The total cost savings for Illinois under a single-payer system would amount to $17 billion annually, nearly two-thirds of our health care spending as a state, by eliminating private insurance providers and their administrative costs.
This issue has driven activism from a wide array of organizations, including social justice advocates, unions, physicians, health associations and religious institutions. But despite these efforts, the bills that lawmakers introduced in Springfield never made it out of committee.
Pawar’s campaign website has been mostly silent on this issue, however. Click here.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Sen. Daniel Biss…
“Health care is a human right, and I’m disappointed that J.B. considers it an option. We need a single-payer health care system in Illinois that covers everyone. I call on J.B. to put aside half-measures like optional care and embrace health care for everyone.”
Except, Pritzker does support a single-payer health care system. From part of Pritzker’s press release that I didn’t post…
I hope there continues to be conversation about how we can expand healthcare coverage across our country, including the consideration of a federal single payer system, which I support. But with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the House and Senate, it’s now up to the states to innovate. That’s why I’m proposing a public option for Illinois, which would be the first in the nation leading in this way. [Emphasis added.]
…Adding… From the Biss campaign…
In the language you cite, JB states he supports a “federal” single-payer system. The criticism Daniel made of his plan, is that he doesn’t support a state level single payer system. Indeed, the fact that Trump and Republicans control Congress is all the more reason a single-payer system at the state level, as we’ve seen with efforts in CA, is needed. The larger point is, while it’s nice he supports a federal level system, he’s not running to be governor of Congress. He’s running to be governor of Illinois, and his position on single-payer for the state is what Democratic primary voters want to know.
That’s a critical distinction among Dem primary voters and among the candidates in this race. I’d hate for people to get the impression that he supports single-payer, writ large, as your piece implies. Because he doesn’t.