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Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are pitching a federal “public option” as a way to expand health coverage and make it more affordable.

The details of their proposals vary, but the general idea is to create a government-sponsored plan that could compete with private insurance.

“We have a public option, just so folks know,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed last month as he unveiled his proposed 2020-21 state budget. “It’s called Covered California.”

Hmm, really?

California does not have a public option in the way most people understand the term. According to Newsom’s definition, offering a public option simply means ensuring that consumers have choices and affordable coverage, and that health plans are

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