Health care is a critical issue for Arizonans, particularly in light of the current environment we all find ourselves living in. However, the answer to reducing costs, increasing access, and improving quality does not lie in heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all “solutions” that would cede control of our health care system to the federal government. Proposals like the public option would only cost taxpayers and reduce access while delivering an inferior quality of care.

Hard-working Arizonans—and all Americans—deserve better than that. Instead of trying to create a new, government-controlled health care insurance system, our leaders in Washington should concentrate on finding market-based solutions to improve current system by building on what’s working and eliminating or addressing what isn’t.

A public option would disrupt the insurance marketplace, pushing private and employer-sponsored plans out of the market because they would be unable to compete on an unlevel playing field. Eventually, the public option would be the last option standing, leading to fewer choices and less flexibility for individuals. 

Moreover, if enacted, the public option could become the third-most expensive government program in the country, coming in just behind Medicare and Social Security, both of which face their own set of problems, including solvency issues. To fund such a bloated program, some estimates conclude, the average worker in the U.S. could be stuck with a massive $2,300 payroll tax increase. With so many Americans struggling right now, the last thing we need is higher taxes.

Another study illustrates just how devastating a public option would be on local health care efforts, particularly in states that have become hotspots for the pandemic like Arizona. Nationally, the study found that hospitals are expected to lose more than $49 billion this year. However, under a public option scenario, things would be much worse as those losses could exceed more than $79 billion. These losses could undermine the ability of local health care providers to meet the needs in their communities and weaken access to care for patients.

The right way to address the health care needs of Arizonans and all Americans is through market-based solutions that ensure all parties—including providers, insurers, and government programs—are working together to find efficiencies and improvements that will bring down costs while expanding access for more Americans. We don’t need the government controlling our health care system to do that.