SHNS: SEN. ELDRIDGE, REP. LEWIS CALL FOR PUBLIC OPTION

By State House News Service
May 16, 2011

Though both lawmakers said they supported a universal, single-payer health care system, Rep. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, urged the Health Care Financing Committee to consider adding a public insurance option in any cost control plan.

“I’m a proponent of a universal single payer health care system, but should we feel that is further than we are able to go at this time, I do feel including a public insurance option would be appropriate and reasonable,” Lewis testified.

Lewis said a public option, with lower administrative costs that private insurers, would increase competitive pressure on private insurance plans to drive down premiums for all subscribers and leverage the state’s bargaining power.

“Public opinion polls show most Massachusetts residents want to have a choice between public and private plans competing side-by-side,” Lewis said.

Eldridge said that despite the success of the 2006 reform law that expanded access to over 98 percent of Bay State residents, recent budget cutbacks have forced the state to curb health coverage for legal immigrants and reduce dental benefits for many residents on subsidized plans.

“We’re already some movement backward in providing robust health care to residents,” Eldridge said. Eldridge said a public option would succeed in both expanding access, and making that accessible health care affordable to more residents.

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