Georgia Senate: Ossoff’s healthcare policy features ‘public option’ plan

Georgia Democratic Senate nominee Jon Ossoff rolled out a healthcare policy Friday that includes pledges to back a “public option” healthcare system, increase funding for public health and vote to confirm federal judges who support abortion rights.

Ossoff said he’ll introduce legislation to increase funding to the U.S. Public Health Service to deploy doctors and nurses in “hard-hit and underserved communities” and he’ll advocate for the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Under his plan, he backs legislation that would allow more access to generic drugs and give Medicare administrators leeway to negotiate drug prices. He said the federal government should ensure that remdesivir, a coronavirus treatment, is free for patients whose insurance doesn’t cover it.

The policy sharpens the healthcare agenda he adopted during his bid for the Democratic nomination against U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who this week launched a TV ad focusing on his medical platform.

Perdue, a first-term Republican, calls for the repeal of Obamacare, which he says is too costly and inefficient, and recently introduced legislation aimed at allowing more foreign-born healthcare workers to move to the U.S. using unused work visas.

The Democrat’s policy echoes elements of presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s healthcare agenda.

The core of Ossoff’s plan is support for a “public option” to let people buy coverage in a federally-backed healthcare plan with the goal of increasing competition and, potentially, driving down costs.

Americans would still “have the choice between private insurance plans . . . and the public option“ under the proposal, which he said would help lower premiums on private plans.

He said those who use the public option won’t be asked to pay deductibles or copays on top of their premiums, and that the uninsured would be automatically enrolled in the public plan when they access healthcare services.

His policy paper said premiums would “ensure that the program is fiscally sustainable.”

Republicans have said such a program is too expensive and steeped with regulations to work effectively, and Perdue’s campaign seized on that argument shortly after Ossoff released his plan.

“In the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis, Jon Ossoff is pushing for big government, socialized healthcare that would leave Georgians with fewer doctors and less access to medicine while they pay higher prices for care,” said Perdue spokesman John Burke.

Read the plan here.