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September 23, 2009 > Letter to the Editor: Public option is essential to health reform

Letter to the Editor: Public option is essential to health reform

"The public option in health care reform may not be essential to bureaucrats or insurance companies but it absolutely is essential to the almost 47 million uninsured Americans who live day to day without health care coverage," said League of Women Voters National President Mary G. Wilson. Calling on Congress and the President not to succumb to the bullying tactics being used by special interest groups, Wilson urged Congress and the President not to waver in their support of the public option included in H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, recently passed by three House committees.

America is facing a health care crisis caused by a combination of skyrocketing costs and an insurance system that leaves millions of Americans without any coverage. "The current health care system is endangering our economy, our health, and our national security," Wilson said. "Last fall, voters elected a Congress and President that promised to reform our heath care system. Voters made it clear that they want a change in our health care system, a change that puts the brakes on the excesses created by a system dominated by large insurance companies," she continued.

"It is universal coverage that will determine the humanity of our system and a public option will make that possible for Americans who cannot obtain coverage through the traditional employer-sponsored plans," noted Wilson. "We believe that health care reform legislation must guarantee access to comprehensive and essential benefits to all U.S. Residents."

"But the possibility of universal coverage is not the only advantage of the public option," warned Wilson. "We must control costs and the public option is the best chance to bring costs into line with reality. As a nation, we are spending $1 out of every $6 we earn on health care. Over the last three decades, increases in the amount we spend on health care have consistently risen faster than wages and inflation. Health care reform must provide effective cost controls, equitable distribution of services and allow for efficient and economical delivery of care. Offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans is key to lowering costs."

"The public option is critical to health care reform," Wilson concluded. "Now is not the time for politicians to get cold feet just because a handful of special-interest-backed protesters spread lies and make noise at public forums. Congress and the President need to demonstrate real leadership and move forward with true health care reform." The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

John Smith
League of Women Voters

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