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The Schumer Public Option Amendment

September 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Here’s the full text of Sen. Charles Schumer’s [D, NY] public option amendment to the Baucus health care bill currently being debated by the Senate Finance Committee. The biggest difference between the Schumer amendment and the Rockefeller amendment that failed earlier today by a vote of 8-15 is that it’s not tied to Medicare levels of reimbursment. The change should help shore up a bit of rural Democrat support and should fare better than the Rockefeller amendment.

Schumer Amendment #C1 to Title I, Subtitle E-

Short Title: Level Playing Field Public Option

Description of Amendment:

Strike Title I, Subtitle E, Health Care Cooperatives and replace with a national level playing field public health insurance option with negotiated reimbursement rates to enhance competition for consumers within the Exchange.

The new national level playing field public option must adhere to the same rules (actuarial reporting, community rating and guaranteed issue) as all other plans in the Exchange and must be self-sustaining with premiums and copayments covering claims. Like private plans, the level playing field public option would also be required to establish a reserve fund. Aside from covering some initial start-up costs, general revenues or annual appropriations may not support the ongoing operation of the plan.

The government must not use existing programs like Medicare as a stick to compel providers to participate in the public option. Instead, doctors and hospitals should be able to voluntarily opt-in to participate in the public option.


Increase annual fee on for-profit health insurance providers by amount necessary to offset the increase in spending.

UPDATE: The amendment has failed, 10-13. The “yeses” were al Democrats – Rockefeller, Schumer, Bingaman, Wyden, Stabenow, Menendez, Kerry, Cantwel, Nelson and Carper. Democrats voting “no” were Baucus, Lincoln and Conrad.

That’s it. No public option in the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill. Still pending, though, is Sen. Olympia Snowe’s [R, ME] public option “trigger” amendment.

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