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Obama made it clear that a trigger and co-ops are not a substitute for a public option. [View All]

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-09-09 07:55 PM
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Obama made it clear that a trigger and co-ops are not a substitute for a public option.
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Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. The insurance reforms that Ive already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange.

Let me be clear it would only be an option for those who dont have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.

Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies dont like this idea. They argue that these private companies cant fairly compete with the government. And theyd be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they wont be. I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.

But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers. It would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.

Its worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort Ive proposed tonight. But its impact shouldnt be exaggerated by the left, the right, or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.

To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans cant find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

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