WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) cosponsored legislation led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) called the State Public Option Act. The legislation would allow states to create a Medicaid-based public health care option to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by providing Americans with a new high-quality, low-cost choice when purchasing health insurance.

“As we continue to fight back against the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and roll back protections for people with pre-existing conditions, we also need to look forward to further improve access to affordable health care. Democrats have put out a lot of great plans to help do that. I’m proud to cosponsor Senator Schatz’s legislation to provide a Medicaid public option to give people more choices and affordable options,” said Murphy.   

“This legislation would give hardworking families the option to buy into Medicaid, which already works for more than 65 million Americans. This high-quality, affordable coverage option would make health care more accessible and drive down costs for all families, moving us closer to our ultimate goal: universal health coverage,” said Blumenthal.

The State Public Option Act will allow states to create a Medicaid buy-in program for all their residents regardless of income, giving everyone the option to buy into a state-driven Medicaid health insurance plan. States like Connecticut are exploring implementing a public option within their legislatures. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found broad, bipartisan support for a Medicaid public option. Medicaid is a popular and cost-effective program with a large provider network. The program has the same positive ratings as private insurance, but provides health coverage at a much lower cost. Based on partnerships between state and federal governments, Medicaid also gives states the flexibility to adapt services and models of care based on their individual needs.

Even with the progress of the ACA, nearly 30 million people remain uninsured. This legislation will help workers who do not have employer-sponsored coverage but may make too much to qualify for subsidies under the ACA. The bill will also help consumers who live in places with only one insurance carrier or who worry they may soon have no options for affordable coverage.

In addition to Murphy, Blumenthal, and Schatz, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie K. Hirono (D- Hawai‘i), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).