Congress wants your input on a public option healthcare plan! – National & International – WED 26May2021

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) are seeking public comments on a public option healthcare bill. Find out more below.

Congress wants your input on a public option insurance bill; find out how you can submit your comment! Illegal construction threatens famous ancient site in Mexico.


Dems eye public option healthcare plan

Democrats in Congress have begun work on legislation to create a public option health insurance plan. During his campaign, President Biden had promised to make a public option a top priority for his administration. Biden favors this approach over Medicare-for-all, which would essentially eliminate private health insurance. However, up to now, there has been little movement on this issue from the White House.

Now, Congressional Democrats are taking the initiative, encouraged by recent polls that show the overwhelming majority of Americans believe we need a public option. The need for more affordable health coverage has become clear during the pandemic. However, in state after state, Republican legislatures are rejecting any move to expand Medicaid, even though doing so would unlock more federal aid under the COVID relief plans. It’s unclear at this moment whether the public option would be free or simply cheaper than private insurance.  

How do we pay for it?

During the campaign, Biden estimated the cost of a public option to be around $800 billion. One way to help get to this number would be to enable Medicare and Medicaid to bargain with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs for participants. This would save the government around $450 billion a year. There hasn’t yet been any movement on this issue from the White House or Congress. With this bargaining tool in place, that leaves about $350 billion a year that Congress would have to find to fund the plan.

This is just one of the many details that remain to be hammered out. The bill’s sponsors hope to hold hearings and debate on the issue in Congress by the end of the year.

How/Where do I submit a public comment?

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have issued a public request for information (PRI). This process allows key stakeholders and members of the general public to give their input on the plan. You can direct your responses and questions to Saha Khaterzai of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce at and Colin Goldfinch of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions at . Public comments are due by July 31

The PRI wants your views on any or all of the following questions:

1. Who should be eligible for the public option? Should a federally administered plan be available to all individuals or be limited to certain categories of individuals (e.g.,ACA Marketplace eligible individuals, private employers and individuals offered employer coverage)?

2. How should Congress ensure adequate access to providers for enrollees in a public option?

3. How should prices for health care items and services be determined? What criteria should be considered in determining prices?

4. How should the public option’s benefit package be structured?

5. What type of premium assistance should the Federal government provide for individuals enrolled in the public option?

6. What should be the role of states in a federally-administered public option?

7. How should the public option interact with public programs including Medicaid and Medicare?

8. What role can the public option play in addressing broader health system reform objectives, such as delivery system reform and addressing health inequities?

You can find more information here (PRI request PDF). 

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Bulldozers threaten ancient site in Mexico

The site of Teotihuacan in Mexico is under threat from illegal construction going on in the vicinity. Teotihuacan is a pre-Aztec city and UNESCO World Heritage site. It is most famous for its elaborate temple complex which includes twin Sun and Moon Temples. The construction is going on outside the temple complex. Archaeologists have been investigating the site for over 100 years and excavations are still ongoing today. The remains of the city are believed to stretch far away from the center, which is why several acres around the site are protected.

The site’s managers say the construction began during the pandemic when security at the site was lax. The construction has already razed some 7 acres on the outskirts of the central temple complex. Experts says that work in the protected area is damaging “archaeological, housing and monumental remains which are also being looted”. Media reports indicate the the owners of land adjacent to the site may be attempting to build some kind of amusement park. 

Mexico’s Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Anthropology and History issued two orders to suspend construction there in March and filed a criminal complaint in April. However, when police have attempted to examine the construction, workers wielding sticks, stones and pipes had seen them off.

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