The Hill posted an opinion piece, "From confusion to solution in health care — the public option in Los Angeles", by L.A. Care CEO John Baackes. In the midst of what he calls the "health-care battlefield" over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Baackes talks about California's latest legislative call for a single-payer system that would provide universal coverage across the state.
While there is great debate over how the state would pay for a $400 billion single-payer system, Baackes explores a common alternative concept — the public option. A public option is an entity created by the federal or state governments to operate a health plan and compete with the private sector for customers, and he proposes that Los Angeles County can serve as a testbed, because it has L.A. Care.
As the public option is reconsidered during California’s debate about a single-payer system, Los Angeles County could serve as a testbed for assessing the viability of a public option as envisioned in the ACA debate nearly a decade ago. That’s because the county has a public plan that is competing against private companies in the ACA exchange.
Without a profit motive, L.A. Care successfully operates on a margin of two to three percent and is able to offer some of the most affordable options. Baackes states there is no question that this style of a public option is a viable solution to the health care chaos, noting that "it would not be a matter of starting over from scratch, but rather an expansion of something that is working — a plan that is providing access to quality health care at an affordable price to a greater number of people."
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.