My column for the week reviews data showing positive reactions to the proposed insurance exchanges at the heart of all of the health reform bills now making their way through Congress and floats an idea for the President: "Challenge Congress to pass a reform bill that requires all members to obtain their health insurance the same way as those without employer-provided health insurance -- through the newly created health care exchanges, rather than the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan." Click through for the details.
One thing I overlooked when drafting the column last week was the candidate Obama was already making the connection during the campaign between the proposed exchanges and the plan currently available to federal employees, including members of congress. Here is Obama discussing his health care plan in the debates with John McCain in the fall:
Debate 2: If you don't have health insurance, you're going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. Because there's a huge pool, we can drop the costs. And nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem.
Debate 3: If you don't have health insurance, then what we're going to do is to provide you the option of buying into the same kind of federal pool that both Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees, which will give you high-quality care, choice of doctors, at lower costs, because so many people are part of this insured group.
For what it's worth, one thing that went unmentioned by Obama in all three debates with McCain were the words "public option" or any mention of a "government run" insurance plan.
Finally, a word of thanks to Jonathan Cohn, author of "The Treatment, a first-rate blog about about health reform at The New Republic. Cohn kindly helped connect me to the handful of health policy analysts who passed along the words of caution included in the column about my admittedly half baked notion about challenging Congress to insure themselves using the proposed exchanges.