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A Message from L.A. Care's Chairperson

Hector De La Torre

A Public Option is the Answer - Just Look at L.A. Care!

 

As a health plan that has exclusively served Los Angeles County for 23 years, L.A. Care is dedicated to local health care.

If there is one thing we can agree on in the last two years, it’s that the American health care system is complicated, costly and leaves too much of our country uninsured and underinsured. In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, in 2020, just as the global pandemic took hold, 28 million Americans did not have health insurance at any point during the year.

"The only place in the country where you have a public option performing as the original ACA intended is at L.A. Care Health Plan."

There are no easy answers. A single-payer system, like the Medicare for All movement, has been trending for the last several years. If we, as a society, were building a health care system from scratch, single-payer might be feasible. But we’re not. We have had organized health care for nearly 130 years, and it has turned into an incredibly complicated system that can’t be easily undone. There are hundreds of thousands who work in the health insurance industry. Where would they go? And, most people who have health coverage get it through their employer, and they like it. It’s doubtful that they’d like being stripped of that coverage.

Insert, the public option. The public option was in the original version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but was cut in the final bill. The legislation said there should be public entities in every state that would offer competing products in the individual insurance market. The public plan would have a lower cost structure and legitimately compete with the commercial plans.

In fact, the public option is healthy competition for commercial plans. Competition is a key ingredient missing from all the single-payer options. If there is no competition, where will the innovation and efficiency come from?

The only place in the country where you have a public option performing as the original ACA intended is at L.A. Care Health Plan. When L.A. Care launched its commercial product, we had the most affordable rates, forcing commercial plans to sharpen their pencils to keep their rates close to ours. That alone proves that a public plan can be competitive in the commercial marketplace, while simultaneously meeting the needs of its Medicare and Medi-Cal members. We have been providing innovative solutions to health care coverage for the past 25 years.

As we move forward in a post-pandemic world, it is important that we consider how we can ensure that as many people as possible are receiving the health care they deserve. A public option will help meet this goal.

Hector De La Torre
Chairperson, L.A. Care Health Plan