Bloomberg healthcare plan builds on ACA, includes ‘public option’

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 21 (UPI) — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has laid out his healthcare plan, positioning himself as a centrist in a field featuring calls from some progressives for “Medicare for All.”

In contrast to the sweeping health changes called for by rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Bloomberg’s vision for healthcare reform highlights a more modest “Medicare-like public option,” under which he said the coverage would be administered by the federal government but funded by customer premiums

In a platform unveiled Thursday during a campaign appearance in Memphis, the billionaire and former New York City mayor also sought to build on existing Affordable Care Act provisions with measures such as expanded federal subsidies for ACA exchanges and premiums capped at 8.5 percent of a household’s income.

Criticizing “Medicare for All” proposals, Bloomberg said the ideas were “more likely to re-elect Donald Trump than to expand coverage.” At the party’s sixth primary debate in Los Angeles Thursday night, candidate Joe Biden similarly criticized Sanders’ plan as too expensive.

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“We won’t take away private insurance — as some candidates would,” Bloomberg promised. “My proposal will instead build on what works: President [Barack] Obama’s Affordable Care Act.”

Bloomberg said those who keep their private plans under his system will see out-of-pocket costs go down, while the public option — which was originally part of Obama’s ACA proposals in 2009 — would be available for anyone eligible for the ACA’s expanded Medicaid coverage.

“That will cover another 2.5 million people across America,” he said.

Bloomberg’s campaign has said the public option and other aspects of his health plan would cost about $1.5 trillion over 10 years — but $500 billion would be saved by cutting out surprise medical bills, limiting out-of-network charges and lowering drug prices.

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