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The Next Step



One of the things a president can do in her final months is to try to get items put on a party’s ongoing agenda. Like this:

President Obama is calling on Congress to “revisit” a public option for Obamacare, citing the lack of health insurance options in some of the law’s marketplaces.

“Based on experience with the [Affordable Care Act], I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited,” Obama wrote in an article for the Journal of the American Medical Association published Monday.

 The article marks the first time a sitting president has written for the medical journal, which is considered one of the country’s most prestigious.

The public option push is part of a larger suite of changes that Obama is suggesting legislators and health advocates pursue during his final months in office. And it is one Democrats have increasingly gravitated toward heading into the election. Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton promised to push for a public option if elected — a position that Sen. Bernie Sanders enthusiastically endorsed.


Now he’s mapping out a course that not this Congress, and possibly not the one after that, but one later down the line might follow. As he prepares to leave office, he’s leaving behind both a legacy and a plan to improve it.

Moving the American system towards a more equitable and efficient one comparable to those in other liberal democracies will require action on a number of fronts: expanding Medicare and Medicaid, increasing the regulation and subsidization of private markets, and a public option. The latter is a good one to focus on: it already has substantial support in the Democratic caucus, many of its strongest opponents in the caucus are out of office, and passing it will help with the other issues. It’s not viable in the short term, but it should be right on the radar the next time there’s unified Democratic government.

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