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Noelle Bell Headshot

The Senate Says, "No, We Can't" To The Public Option

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A majority of polls have shown that Americans, time after time, favor a strong Medicare-like public option that is immediately available, can deliver quality health care with affordable premiums, and will help keep the private insurers honest by being available everywhere on day one as a competitive player. Even a third of Republicans polled in these surveys favor the public option -- that's an incredibly strong bipartisan indictment that private insurance has failed drastically through its own greed in bilking Americans through expensive premiums, denying them needed care, and paying billions of dollars to insurance company executives on the backs of sick and underinsured Americans.

If private insurers weren't so consumed with greed, they wouldn't be in the place now where they have to face the threat of a public option as envisioned in the Tri-Committee House draft bill to keep them honest. They're where they are today because they placed profits over the lives of Americans. Think of the claims they've denied over the years to Americans with high blood pressure, cancer, pregnancy, and other diseases. They call them "recission" policies, which is a very fancy way of denying medical care by pulling insurance policies from the sick and the injured.

These private insurance companies also have what are known as regional monopolies where they take up a huge portion of the market as much as 94% of the market, thus offering you or your employer very few choices in finding affordable health plans. They're fighting hard against the public option because they know it has the potential to break up their regional monopolies. They're busy on Capitol Hill making sure the Senate, Republicans and and some Democrats, say "No, We Can't" to the public option with thousands of dollars funneled straight to their re-election campaign accounts.

We're tired of hearing excuses from Senators Reid, Baucus, and others that they don't have the votes for a strong public option. They just got Al Franken as their 60th Democratic Senator. No more excuses. We can't afford any more excuses from this Senate while insurance premiums go up every year, and more Americans drop their health insurance coverage to keep food on the table and pay the gas and phone bills.

Real lives are at stake while Senators are busy playing the bipartisanship game to scuttlebutt the public option in order to be "fair to the private insurers." They have their priorities wrong. It shouldn't be about being fair to the private insurers, it should be about being fair to those who have been suffering for too long without health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, unaffordable insurance premiums, and junk insurance policies with few benefits. It's time to be fair to us for a change.

Right now, the insurance industry would love nothing more than Senator Baucus's bill to pass out of the conference committee without a strong public option, and only with a state-based co-op plan with very little bargaining clout. It'd be a mandated bailout for them with us being forced to buy their junk insurance plans. That's their dream and the worst nightmare possible for us. Senators like Baucus, Conrad, Landrieu, Wyden, Lincoln, Cantwell, and others need to drop their "bipartisan" fetish and start thinking about us for a change, instead of the private insurers. They need to stop saying, "No, We Can't," and say, "Yes, We Can," instead to the public option.

Please continue to call the White House, your Senators, Representatives, and even use President Obama's OFA phonebanking tool to call your neighbors to ask them to call their Senator in support of a strong Medicare-like public option that that is immediately available, can deliver quality health care with affordable premiums, and help keep the private insurers honest by being available everywhere on day one as a competitive player.