Magazine article USA TODAY

Can Public Plan Keep Private Policy Costs in Line?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Can Public Plan Keep Private Policy Costs in Line?

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A new public health insurance plan that competes directly with private insurers is essential to controlling health care costs and improving the quality of care, according to a report released by the Institute for America's Future, Washington, D.C., and the Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at the University of California's School of Law, Berkeley. The report asserts that a public health insurance plan like Medicare offered together with private health plans could result in one trillion dollars in national savings over 10 years by driving down costs, improving efficiencies, and fostering innovation.

Pres. Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D.-Mont.), and House Ways and Means Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D.Calif.) all have embraced the idea of adding a public plan to help fix the ailing health care system, but the insurance industry opposes a public option. New data in the report provides fresh ammunition to this debate by showing how a public plan can maintain lower costs over time while providing broad, guaranteed, and quality coverage. …

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