Sens. Michael Bennet and Tim Kaine Introduce Health Care Public Option Proposal: "Medicare X"


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee members Tim Kaine of Virginia and Michael Bennet of Colorado join MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' to discuss legislation the two are pushing that would create a public health care option to go along with the Affordable Care Act. They call it Medicare-X, and suggest it can be a replacement for the private health care insurance industry.

SEN. BENNET: Well, I think -- I've always believed a public option should have been part of the Affordable Care Act. We tried to get it done then and we weren't able to do it.

Tim and I both heard from our constituents, especially in rural Colorado and rural Virginia, that it's just unreasonable to force people to buy insurance when there is no competition. The price is high, the deductible is high and the people want to have an option.

And so that's what this very strong public option Medicare X is all about. We're going to start rolling it out in rural parts of our states -- or the proposition is, roll it out in rural parts of the states and then have everybody have access to it in about three years.

Whether it will pass is an interesting question because virtually nothing can pass these days in the Congress. I think that, as part of an attempt to actually resolve the issues that people are having not so much with ObamaCare but with the American health care system, this ought to be part of the solution to that.

And I am optimistic we'll be able ultimately to get it passed. I'm very pleased to have Tim as our co-sponsor here, because I think that brings a lot of credibility to the bill...

SEN. TIM KAINE: When the skinny repeal vote failed in July, that effort to take insurance away from 20 million people, we started to work on a bipartisan proposal to stabilize the individual insurance market.

We owe it to the American public to show them, after seven years, that we can do something in health care on a bipartisan basis. And I'm really gratified that Lamar and Patty have put the deal on the table, to stabilize it with the payments that help people afford their copays and deductibles and also giving states flexibility.

Six Republicans have already come out and said they support this deal. Many Democrats are supporting it. And I think we can get this passed as part of some larger legislation this year.

And then we move on to the bigger question of, what do we do to fix health care going forward?

I think our bill is a solution there.

But look, the president is backing and forthing on this, as on so many other things, is sort of making him a little bit irrelevant to the discussions in the Senate. We're moving ahead on trying to find bipartisan solutions. And we're not going to let tweets get in our way.

BENNET: If I could just add to that, there is nobody in the Senate that I have more confidence in than Lamar Alexander as a legislator. And he and Patty Murray are responding to the testimony we heard on our committee in a bipartisan way that universally called for the things that are in this bill that they've written.

So it would be a shame if we didn't use this opportunity to pass this bill, stabilize the markets. And President Trump's attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act have been useless to people living in Colorado. This bill would help us.

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