Dem Senator: Forcing People to Buy Health Insurance Without Options Is 'Unreasonable'

October 19, 2017

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) said on Thursday it is "unreasonable" for people to be forced into buying health insurance when there is no competition.

MSNBC co-host Willie Geist asked Bennet about him calling for a public option and whether he thinks it will get the votes to pass the Senate.

Bennet said he has always believed the public option should have been part of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. He went on to say that he and fellow guest Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) heard from constituents in rural Colorado and Virginia about how it is not right to force people to buy health insurance when there is no competition.

"Tim and I both heard from our constituents, especially in rural Colorado and rural Virginia, that it's just unreasonable to force people to buy insurance when there is no competition – price is high, the deductible is high, and the people want to have an option," Bennet said. "That's what this very strong public option Medicare-X is all about."

He explained the proposal is for the plan to be rolled out first in rural Virginia and Colorado, and then other portions of the states would obtain access in about three years.

"Whether we will past it, that is an interesting question because virtually nothing can pass these days in the Congress," Bennet said. "I think that as part of an attempt to actually resolve the issues that people are having – not so much with Obamacare, but with the American health care system – this ought to be part of the solution to that, and I am optimistic that we'll be able ultimately to get it passed."

He commended Kaine for being a co-sponsor of the bill, noting the former vice presidential candidate "brings a lot of credibility" to the bill.

Kaine and Bennet's bill, "Medicare-X," is a significant proposal politically for Democrats because they are trying to build upon Obamacare versus trying to scrap it for a different health care system, such as the "Medicare for All" singer payer plan introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

Sanders introduced the proposal last month, and several progressive Democrats, who are potentially gearing up for a 2020 presidential bid, have embraced the health care proposal. Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) are among those who have signed on to the bill.