As Lynn Woolsey Reintroduces Public Option, Blue Shield Jacks Up Rates

CA Democrat Lynn Woolsey made the first day of the 112th Congress count on Wednesday, introducing a measure that would reboot the public option in the Affordable Care Act. Woolsey's long been ride-or-die when it comes to the public option, introducing it and resuscitating it several times throughout the health care bill's approval process before it eventually got knocked off. This time around, she pointed out that the measure will lower insurance costs while slicing into the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. According to Raw Story, Woolsey noted, "If Republicans really care about the deficit, they should sign on to this bill rather than try to dismantle the health care reform law, which would add billions to the budget deficit." Her point poked holes in the GOP argument that health care would pile on the bills -- the CBO points out that the public option would cut the deficit by $68 billion, and health care spending is at its smallest in 50 years, meaning a lot of Americans aren't getting the medical attention they need.

Meanwhile, in Woolsey's home state, a gargantuan rate hike by a private insurer underscores the need for a public option. California-based Blue Shield is raising rates as much as 59 percent this year, reports the LA Times, citing rising costs of drugs and hospital bills. The cost increase echoes similar hikes by Anthem Blue Cross, though their attempt to raise rates by 39 percent was eventually capped at 20. California's state insurance commissioner is reviewing Blue Shield's move. According to Blue Shield spokesman Tom Epstein, "Rates are going to continue to rise unless the cost of medical care is brought under control. We need to reduce what we pay to hospitals, medical groups and pharmaceutical companies." Read more here.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at January 6, 2011, 3:32am

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