Republican legislators and policy experts are kicking around a novel way to increase health coverage: automatically enrolling millions of uninsured Americans into low-cost insurance plans. The idea has shown up on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal and been discussed in private meetings of the Senate working group on health care.
And unlike Republicans’ other ideas, automatic enrollment is the rare health proposal that doesn’t reflexively alienate liberals. They are generally enthusiastic about policies that would lead to greater coverage.
“It’s a viable idea,” says Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare under President Obama and is an ardent Affordable Care Act advocate. “What’s appealing about it to Republicans and to Democrats is you want people to have free choice but not be free riders.”
“It’s an interesting idea that has got a lot of promise, but the operational details need to be worked through,” says Stan Dorn, a senior fellow in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a think tank generally supportive of the Affordable Care Act."
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