House's Health Reform Draft Features Public Option

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , June 19, 2009

Representatives of the three House committees with oversight of healthcare reform--Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor--released an 852-page discussion draft this afternoon that their committees will begin to publicly review next week. 

The draft proposal, which is light on details on how it will be paid for, contains a number of reforms on providing healthcare, including a public option. "It builds on what works, and fixes what needs to be fixed," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of Energy and Commerce.

The provisions call for:

  • Maintaining the ability for people to keep the insurance coverage that they want.
  • Investing in healthcare workforce to improve access to primary care.
  • Creating a new national health exchange that permits states the option of developing a state or regional exchange
  • Offering sliding scale credits to ensure affordability for low- and middle-income individuals and families;
  • Providing a public insurance option.
  • Improving delivery of care and reducing ethnic and racial disparities.
  • Improving Medicare, including fixing the physician Sustainable Growth Rate.
  • Making sure physicians, nurses, and other health providers are available to meet patients' needs
  • Promoting a stronger network of community health centers.
  • Enhancing prevention and wellness programs.

In response to recent reports that the American Medical Association opposes a public insurance option, Waxman said, "I don't know what the AMA position is. I want them to look at our draft. I think there is lot of misinformation about the idea of a public option."

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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