Politics

Senators Send Reid A Letter Urging Inclusion Of Public Option In Health Reform Bill

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, circulated a letter Thursday to show depth of support for public option among Senate Democrats.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, circulated a letter Thursday to show depth of support for public option among Senate Democrats.

Thirty U.S. Senators signed a letter today urging the inclusion of a public option in any health reform legislation that will be considered on the Senate floor. An additional 14 Senators at least have expressed support for the public option through a resolution, letter, or by voting for a strong public option during committee markups.

The letter, which was circulated by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), was signed by Brown; John D. Rockefeller (D-WV); Russell D. Feingold (D-WI); Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT); Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI); Tom Udall (D-NM); Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY); Roland W. Burris (D-IL); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Michael F. Bennet (D-CO); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Jack Reed (D-RI); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ); Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD); Al Franken (D-MN); Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA); Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD); Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI); Edward E. Kaufman (D-DE); Arlen Specter (D-PA); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Bernard Sanders (I-VT); John F. Kerry (D-MA); Herb Kohl (D-WI); and Paul Kirk (D-MA).

“Support for the public option runs deep in the Senate,” Brown said. “Health insurance reform is all about lowering costs, improving care, and increasing choice for consumers. In too many parts of the country, one or two insurance companies control the majority of the market. This isn’t good for consumers, businesses, or taxpayers. As we finalize health reform legislation, we shouldn’t forget that a majority of Americans, doctors, and Members of Congress support a public option.”

The Senators’ letter expresses concern that “absent a competitive and continuous public insurance option – health reform legislation will not produce nationwide access and ongoing cost containment.”

It continues on to state that “the number one goal of health reform must be to look out for the best interests of the American people – patients and taxpayers alike – not the profit margins of insurance companies.”

Brown is a leading advocate of the public option. Along with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), he helped write the public option language in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee-passed health reform bill. In April, Brown circulated a letter signed by 21 senators calling for a strong public health insurance option to be included in health reform efforts. In May, he introduced a resolution sponsored by 28 senators calling for a public option.

Here’s a copy of the letter senators sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

October 8, 2009

The Honorable Harry Reid

Majority Leader

United States Senate

The Capitol, S-221

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We have spent the better part of this year fighting for health reform that would provide insurance access and continuity to every American in a fiscally responsible manner. We are concerned that – absent a competitive and continuous public insurance option – health reform legislation will not produce nationwide access and ongoing cost containment. For that reason, we are asking for your leadership on ensuring that the merged health reform bill contains a public insurance option.

As it stands, the health insurance market is dominated by a handful of for-profit health insurers that are exempt from the anti-trust laws that ensure robust competition in other markets across the United States. Without a not-for-profit public insurance alternative that competes with these insurers based on premium rates and quality, insurers will have free rein to increase insurance premiums and drive up the cost of federal subsidies tied to those premiums. This is simply not fiscally sustainable.

We recognize that the two Committees with jurisdiction over health reform – the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee – have taken two very different approaches with respect to this issue. However, a strong public option has resounding support among Senate Democrats – every Democrat on HELP, three quarters of those on Finance, and what we believe is a majority of the caucus.

The Senate Finance Committee included a cooperative approach to insurance market competition. While promoting more co-ops may be a worthy goal, it is not realistic to expect local co-ops to spring up in every corner of this country. There are many areas of the country where the population is simply too small to sustain a local co-op plan. We are also concerned that the administrative costs associated with financing the start-up of multiple co-op plans would far outstrip the seed money required to establish a public health insurance program.

Opponents of health reform argue that a public option presents unfair competition to the private insurance companies. However, it is possible to create a public health insurance option that is modeled after private insurance – rates are negotiated and providers are not required to participate in the plan. As you know, this is the Senate HELP Committee’s approach. The major differences between the public option and for-profit plans are that the public plan would report to taxpayers, not to shareholders, and the public plan would be available continuously in all parts of the country. The number one goal of health reform must be to look out for the best interests of the American people – patients and taxpayers alike – not the profit margins of insurance companies.

Health reform is about improving access to health care, containing costs, and giving Americans a real choice in the insurance plan best suited to their needs. We urge you to fight for a sustainable health care system that ensures Americans the option of a public plan in the merged Senate bill.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) John D. Rockefeller (D-WV)

Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)

Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) Tom Udall (D-NM)

Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY) Roland W. Burris (D-IL)

Ron Wyden (D-OR) Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Jack Reed (D-RI) Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)

Al Franken (D-MN) Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)

Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)

Edward E. Kaufman (D-DE) Arlen Specter (D-PA)

Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Bernard Sanders (I-VT) John F. Kerry (D-MA)

Herb Kohl (D-WI) Paul Kirk (D-MA)

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10 Responses for “Senators Send Reid A Letter Urging Inclusion Of Public Option In Health Reform Bill”

  1. Troy Lynn says:

    Thank you to you and your wonderful wife for fighting so hard for the people and the public option. You are truly an Angel on earth and thank you for being our advocate, even when the president seems to have dissappeared behind the veil. :) Keep up the good work! Thank you!

  2. wendi abbott says:

    It is time for the elected officials to stand FOR the people who have put them into office. PUBLIC OPTION IN THE HEALTH REFORM BILL. Please

  3. Jo Anne & Beau Foulk says:

    We need & demand a public option now!!!

  4. e hill says:

    Awesome. Finally some common sense and real representation for the American people, not just protection for the blood sucking health insurance company profits. There is a glimmer of hope for the integrity of our representatives. The assinine antics of tea baggers this summer has been an embarassement to our intelligence, causing the entire world to question wheather or not there are any real thinking people left here. Maybe, just maybe, now we can redeem some of our dignity.

  5. Judy Nedry says:

    People like me–older, easy for insurance companies to turn down, low on cash flow–need a public option. I applaud our West Coast senators. The nation is watching all of you in the Senate. Can you put aside the silliness and do what’s right? We can’t put it off any longer.

  6. Judy- Midwest gal says:

    How many election mandates have we asked for a public health option for all over the years? They promised us it and then back out when the insurance lobbists get to them.

    If the insurance companies cut costs and did what was right, we wouldn’t be angry now. Under previous Presidents they promised to do it over and over but haven’t.

    People losing the homes and life savings and bankrupt over health care is insanity in a modern, wealthy country.

    When asked on CSPAN why continue the expensive wars of seven plus years a Congressman stated that our social programs cost more. What? A billion or so everyday for military and defense which is a waste of our money is cheaper than programs which help our citizens?

    Some of the drug and insurance companies aren’t even American (want to be “international” and not pay taxes, obey laws and over site, etc.). They take our research and technology and profit off it. Then they deny us care.

    You can bet this young Congressman is getting his pillage for lying.

    It’s not rocket science other democratic countries have it in place and it works.

  7. Judith tanner says:

    Thanks for supporting what a majority of the people are in favor of.
    I think your two-pronged reasons for supporting a “Public Option” namely health care for all (national access) and cost containment should continue to be the persuasive battering rams to get the DEMOCRATIC party members who are either “wishy-washy” or not behind a “Public Option” at all to do what is right for the people and in the end for all of the players. The main benefits will be better health for Americans, a better economy… the only supposed downside is that the profits of insurers, hospitals and doctors will go down. As far as I’m concerned this is fine… none of those people will become homeless or lack food, etc. but will just have to live less “high on the hog” (like most of the rest of us). They will still earn well over a living wage… it just that the majority of Americans see a lot of greed involved in the whole medical system in the US and we want this controlled so all of us can receive good medical care. If ALL Democrats would get behind what the people want (and not what the greed seekers want) we will have a “Public Option” I along with many American’s will in the end blame the Democrats if a “Public Option” is not part of health care reform. That is because while I commend your support (and the two senators from MD where I live) I and most Americans know that the Democrats can pass a bill with a “Public Option” without Republican support… if it fails to pass it will be because Democrats fails to actively and strongly support a “Public Option”. It is discouraging to me that so many Democrats were unwilling to sign this letter. What on earth is going on that these senators can act more like Republicans than Democrats? These 4 years are your chance and if you don’t take it and bring to fruition the “hope” that got many of you elected many of us will defect for good. We will know it’s just the same old politics as usual where big money always wins.
    Keep PUSHING until the Public Option happens.
    Judy Tanner

  8. not important says:

    Kristen?

  9. DumbFounded says:

    WHAT a bunch of total SELFISH MORONs… Every stinkin time that the government creates more Departments and Agencies they hire hundreds to thousand of new Federal Employees… each has benefits including FREE Health Care, Pensions, Salaries that costs US the TAXPAYERS more every time our Government epands.. leaving a HORRIBLE Legacy left to OUR CHILDREN… but…. it is ALL about YOU …. isn’t … you could care less about the next generation and those to come that …. IDIOTS !

  10. Gena King says:

    We must help take care of those who cannot take care of themselves…

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