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Public Option Is Just A Bit Player in Reform Drama

For all the hoopla over whether or not a goverment-run public insurance option will be included in national health reform legislation, a new analysis by reporters at Kaiser Health News finds that the public option may, in fact, only play a "miniscule" role in expanding health care in the U.S. The report says:

Of the 30 million Americans likely to purchase insurance through exchanges created by the legislation, only six million — or one fifth — would enroll in a public insurance plan, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House bill. Viewing it another way, the six million using the public option would amount to only two percent of the 282 million Americans under the age of 65 who are projected to have health insurance by 2019, when the legislation is fully implemented.

And that number could shrink because states may decide to opt out of a public insurance plan, an escape clause that's likely to be included in the Senate plan.

“The politics of this issue is totally disproportionate to its likely impact one way or another,” said Bruce Vladeck, a former administrator of the federal agency now called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This program aired on November 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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