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Facing steep odds, 128 House Democrats revive public option

The Washington Independent, July 30, 2010

Four months after President Barack Obama enacted the Affordable Care And Patient Protection Act, House Democrats have revived a top liberal priority that was eliminated from the sweeping health care law in the latter stages of a grueling year-long debate: the public option. Armed with a new line of attack aimed at soothing deficit fears, Democratic Reps. Lynn Woolsey (Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) and Pete Stark (CA) last Thursday unveiled a bill that would offer consumers the choice of a “robust” government-run insurance plan alongside the private plans in the law’s exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the bill, which has gained 128 co-sponsors, will reduce the federal deficit by $68 billion between 2014 and 2020. Schakowsky argues that the lower overhead costs of government plans such as Medicare would allow the public option to create a better deal for consumers. “We could offer that kind of plan at a lower cost, and it would compete with private insurance companies, who would have to be more efficient and lower their costs,” she told TWI. “It would follow the same rules as private insurers.”