WASHINGTON -- A government-run medical plan would "serve as a check" on private insurers and is key to overhauling the nation's health-care system, Sen. Sherrod Brown says.

The Ohio Democrat helped launch a campaign yesterday for a so-called public plan to be included in the health-care reform bill that congressional Democratic leaders hope to send to President Barack Obama later this year.

Brown released a letter co-signed by 15 other Democratic senators telling the chairmen of the Senate finance and health committees, Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that "there is no reason to believe that private insurers alone will meet the public purpose of ensuring coverage for all Americans at an affordable price for taxpayers."

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