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Rep. Phillips Co-Sponsors Landmark Legislation to Lower Costs, Increase Access to Health Care

Legislation will create a public option for Minnesotans to buy into the state’s Medicaid program

Today, Rep. Dean Phillips announced he is co-sponsoring the State Public Option Act, landmark health care legislation that will allow Americans to buy into their state’s Medicaid program. Prohibitively high costs continue to deny many Minnesotans access to healthcare every day even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens our community. A state-based public option would open up healthcare access to thousands of Minnesotans while providing a viable health insurance option for those without employer-provided insurance.

Under this Medicaid Buy-in program, states will set the terms for how the public-option will be implemented. Enrollees will have access to Medicaid’s provider network and benefit set and the state will determine the premiums, deductibles, and other cost-sharing. Cost will be much lower due to smaller administrative overhead. A 2013 Congressional Budget Office estimate of a similar public option found that premiums would be on average 7-8% less than on the individual market.

“Lowering the cost of health care for my constituents and all Americans has been a top priority since I joined Congress in 2019,” said Rep. Phillips, “and this legislation does just that. The State Public Option Act will expand health coverage to thousands of Minnesotans, allow states to become policy innovators, and encourage more people to pursue their dreams with affordable health insurance. A public health insurance option is the next step toward achieving a health care system with truly universal access, as we continue to grapple with a pandemic that has changed so many aspects of our lives. We are all connected  my neighbor’s health is about my health, too.”

The CBO estimated that widespread adoption of such a plan can reduce the federal deficit by $158 billion dollars, with $121 billion income generated from the premiums and outlays for Medicaid.

Minnesota’s Medicaid Program (known as Medical Assistance) is one of America’s best. It is a national leader in many areas including value-based care—an innovative approach that increases quality and lowers cost by working directly with providers get ahead of potential health issues rather than just waiting for patients to get sick.

The State Public Option Act is authored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found broad bipartisan support for a Medicaid Buy-In program, with 75% of Americans (including 64% of Republicans) in favor of such a program. Fourteen states are looking at Medicaid Buy-In programs of some sort.