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Quality of Life

Senate Says States Could Offer Public Health Insurance Plan

The Senate Finance Committee has rejected the idea of a public plan in its version of health reform. But the committee has approved the concept of allowing states to offer their own public insurance option.

Under the committee's bill, states could offer health insurance to low-income people who don't get coverage at work. A family of four that makes up to $44,000 a year could qualify. The plan would negotiate rates directly with doctors and other providers.

A public plan in California could potentially insure millions of people.


Anthony Wright directs the non-profit group Health Access California.

"I think we prefer a national public health insurance option, so that it'd have the most bargaining power," Wright said. "And if we can't get one, having the choice at the state level would be a second best choice."

Wright says four committees in Congress have approved a public option. But he says there's a long way to go before a final bill takes shape.