Merkley: 33 Senate Dems Now Back ObamaCare Public Option

There are now 33 Democratic senators who back a public option being added to ObamaCare, Sen.Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) touted in an email Friday.

That makes up a majority of the caucus, although it means 13 Democrats or Independents who caucus with them have not joined Merkley’s resolution.
Democratic calls for a public insurance option have risen as major private insurers have pulled out of ObamaCare marketplaces, leaving parts of the country with just one option for coverage through the law.

Merkley wrote in the email to members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that he was “outraged” when Aetna announced in August that it would pull out of many ObamaCare marketplaces for financial reasons.

He argued that the move was retaliation for the Department of Justice blocking the company’s proposed merger with Humana.
“I don’t think we need any more proof that a public option is critical to bringing more competition and accountability to the insurance market,” Merkley wrote.
The co-sponsors of the resolution include Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and President Obama have also endorsed the idea.
A public option has essentially no chance of passing Congress as long as Republicans control one chamber.
In addition, some centrist Democrats have expressed wariness of a public option.
“I think it’s critically important that we stop trying to complicate healthcare and we start taking a look at what needs to be fixed in ObamaCare,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said in July.
“Until we actually have those conversations and we have bipartisan support, I think it’s unrealistic to assume that we’re going to see any kind of expansion of care.”
The resolution in favor of the public option notes that 20 million people have gained coverage under ObamaCare that “there is still more work to be done.”

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