The pandemic and resulting economic crisis shined a light on the critical need to expand access to equitable, quality, affordable health care. As an organization, United States of Care is committed to making this a reality at the state and federal levels. This past week included a series of major developments and progress, which we’re proud to be a part of.
We first want to celebrate our coalition partners for their successful efforts to pass historic health care measures in their states. In Nevada, we’re almost over the finish line to create what will become only the nation’s second public option. Major legislation to drive down health care costs is also on the way to the governor’s desk in Colorado.
Nationally, we’re pleased that Representative Frank Pallone and Senator Patty Murray – Chairs of their respective chamber’s committees overseeing health policy – announced plans to craft comprehensive legislation to create a federal public option and gather stakeholder feedback about what it should include.
Both the Nevada Senate and General Assembly passed legislation in the past week to create a public health insurance option for Nevadans. The legislation is set to be signed into law by Governor Steve Sisolak, which will make the Silver State only the second in the nation (after Washington state) to enact a public option. The legislation is expected to significantly reduce the cost of health coverage and the number of Nevada residents forced to go without health insurance because they can’t afford it, a list which includes individuals, families, and those working at small businesses.
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, lead sponsor of the public option legislation said:
“People are struggling to ensure they will have access to health care if they get sick. Now is an opportune moment to take advantage of the state’s considerable bargaining power to make health care more affordable and more accessible.”
In Colorado, lawmakers and advocates passed major affordability legislation in the state Senate, part of a years-long effort to bring down costs and build a more-equitable system in the Centennial State. The amended bill now heads back to the House, where it previously passed, before heading to the desk of Governor Jared Polis.
In a speech to colleagues before the Senate vote, bill sponsor Senator Kerry Donovan explained:
“Whether you’re a raft guide in Steamboat or you’re a farmer in Bennett, or you’re a small business owner in Denver, more access means that you get the care they need closer to where they live. [. . .] Lower premiums means more dollars at the end of the month to put into a college savings account or your retirement plan. Improving health outcomes looks like providers living and working in and reflecting the communities they serve.”
Meanwhile in our nation’s capital, Representative Frank Pallone, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, announced their plans to establish a public option to help families get quality, affordable health care. The Chairs also issued a Request for Information as part of their effort to craft new comprehensive legislation. Pallone and Murray said:
“This pandemic has underscored why it’s so important to patients, families, and communities across the country that health care is truly a right, not a privilege. No one should suffer or die because quality health care was too expensive or too hard to get. We believe we must take bold steps to lower health care costs and move toward universal coverage by creating a federal public option available to everyone—and a clear majority of Americans agree. A federal public option will help guarantee that no matter where you live, who you are, or what your income — if you live in America, you can get the quality health care you need without worrying about cost.”
In the coming weeks and months, USofCare is excited to keep up the fight for affordable, accessible, and more equitable health care. In just the last several days, we’ve seen an indication of how strong the momentum is for policy change that brings relief to people and provides dependable coverage that can be there through life changes.