WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty-eight U.S. Senators today introduced a resolution calling for the inclusion of federally-backed health insurance option in health care reform. The Senators' resolution says that any reform of our nation’s health care system should give consumers a choice of an affordable, federally-backed option to introduce competition in the health insurance market and contain health care costs.
The Senators’ resolution expresses that the "presence of a federally-backed insurance pool” would provide consumer choice and benefit “Americans who have become unemployed, live in rural and other traditionally underserved areas, or have been unable to attain affordable health insurance.”
The resolution states that “any efforts to reform our Nation’s health care system should include as an option the establishment of a federally-backed insurance pool to create options for American consumers."
“This is about consumer choice and introducing competition in the health insurance market,” Sen. Brown said. “Private health insurers always manage to stay ‘one step ahead of the sheriff’— finding new ways to limit care and pass costs along to the consumer. Giving Americans the choice of a quality, federally-backed, health insurance option will keep private insurers honest and make health care affordable.”
“I strongly support including a public health insurance option in health reform,” said Sen. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care. “We need to provide quality, affordable coverage for the millions of Americans the insurance industry has failed – a federally-backed health insurance option is the only reliable way to do just that.”
“A public health insurance option is critical to ensure the greatest amount of choice possible for consumers,” Sen. Schumer said. “We believe that it is fully possible to create a public plan that delivers all the benefits of increased competition without relying on unfair, built-in advantages. If a level playing field exists, then private insurers will have to compete based on quality of care and pricing, instead of just competing for the healthiest consumers.”
“We have a moral obligation to ensure all Americans have access to affordable and high quality health care,” Sen. Levin said. “One step toward achieving that goal is to ensure that we explore all possible health insurance options, including a federally-backed health insurance pool, as we continue to move forward in determining the best way to reform health care.”
“All Americans deserve the option of affordable health insurance plans,” Sen. Leahy said. “A public option will give those in need of coverage access to quality care, maintain patient choice, and reduce the nation’s overall health spending. We cannot afford to neglect true reform to our health system any longer.”
“The purpose of reforming our broken health care system is to make sure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care, plain and simple,” Sen. Menendez said. “By ensuring that families have a real choice of health insurance options – and that one of those choices is a quality, federally-backed plan – we can help guarantee that families will have good options for health care that they can rely upon and afford.”
“In the greatest country in the world, health care should be a right, not a privilege,” Sen. Stabenow said. “A public insurance option encourages competition and provides families with a valuable choice to keep the insurance they have now or purchase this option. Public insurance is an essential step in guaranteeing that when a worker loses their job they doesn’t also lose their insurance. And most of all it will mean that every American family has access to affordable, quality healthcare.”
“Improving our health care system to increase quality and improve affordability is the ultimate and long-neglected goal,” said Sen. Casey. “A public option can help this effort by increasing competition in the market and maintaining patient choice.”
“Health reform should provide consumers with the full range of choices to meet their needs,” Sen. Merkley said. “A public option will provide competition that will keep private insurance companies honest and help improve service and lower health care costs for everyone.”
“Ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care is a national priority,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “With more than 47 million uninsured Americans and millions of families and businesses struggling with rising health care costs, the time to act is now. We cannot have a system in which the only choice is private plans. Everyone should have the option of buying into a not-for profit public plan at a rate that they can afford. I am proud to join with my colleagues to fight for the inclusion of a public plan option in health care reform.”
“In this tough economy, we need to do all we can to help families afford to see a doctor, buy medicines they need to stay healthy and choose the health care coverage they need,” Sen. Lautenberg said. “Greater choice and greater competition helps ensure consumers can get real coverage at more affordable prices and should be a part of national health care reform.”
The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Roland W. Burris (D-IL), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).