From an article by Jonathan Cohn in The Huffington Post:
Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her support on Saturday for creating a “public option” within Obamacare and allowing people to enroll in Medicare at age 55.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also called for a substantial increase in funding in medical clinics that serve low-income Americans, fully embracing a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). . . .
“We have more work to do to finish our long fight to provide universal, quality, affordable health care to everyone in America,” Clinton said in a press release that the campaign circulated late Saturday morning. “Already, the Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage to 20 million Americans. As president, I will make sure Republicans never succeed in their attempts to strip away their care and that the remaining uninsured should be able to get the affordable coverage they need to stay healthy.”. . .
The idea of the public option ― as first sketched out by Jacob Hacker, a Yale political scientist ― is to create a separate, government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers offering coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. The hope is that this competition can help keep premiums for all the insurance plans low, particularly if the government-run plan has the ability to dictate low reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals, drugmakers, and other suppliers of medical care.
President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders included versions of the public option in their proposals when they first began working on health care reform in 2009. But they ended up jettisoning the idea in response to protests from more conservative Democrats, who were less enthusiastic about government programs and industry groups, like hospitals and insurance companies, that feared what a public option would do to their income streams.
The idea of a Medicare buy-in has been around for even longer, although it, too, appeared in 2009 when Democrats were drawing up health care legislation. The goal, again, would be to give consumers ― in this case, those older than 55 and at greater risk of becoming sick ― one more insurance option if they can’t get coverage through an employer or an existing government program.
Clinton has expressed support for both ideas during the 2016 campaign, noting that she had called for them previously. (She made a public option part of her campaign proposal to reform health care in 2008.) But campaign aides said Saturday’s announcement is a reminder of how seriously she takes the idea ― and her determination to promote it as president.