I’m writing this blog entry while watching President Obama’s interview on health care with ABC news and a room full of advocates, providers, economists, businesses, and everyday Americans. It is remarkable to me, and very encouraging, that so many people are engaged and that we are having this kind of public dialogue on this critical issue.
One of the most talked about proposals for reform is the creation of a public health insurance plan. At Appleseed, we believe a public health insurance plan is critical to successful reform for consumers. Unfortunately, the public discourse on this issue in particular has become fraught with some of the same scare tactics that we’ve seen in other attempts to reform health care.
What we as a country need is to get beyond the politics and get to a solution. Health care reform should give Americans choices – the choice to keep your current health insurance plan, including keeping your doctor, to choose a different private plan, or the choice of a quality, affordable public health insurance plan. Reform must also stop insurance companies from denying coverage for an illness you had five years ago or denying you coverage for some other pre-existing condition.
A public health insurance plan will give Nebraskans a choice and the peace of mind to know that there will always be a quality health insurance plan that families can afford. It will compete in the market with private insurers helping to foster competition and innovation that benefits the consumer. This prescription for reform arises from the abiding economic philosophy of this country, that competition is good for the consumer. Many of the opponents of a public health insurance plan are often the strongest champions of a free market. It is curious then that they should oppose increased market competition in this context.
A public health insurance plan is an essential component in addressing health care costs that continue to skyrocket at an alarming rate. On Tuesday, as part of our continuing work on health care reform, Appleseed as the lead organization for Health Care for America Now, released a report highlighting once again, the astounding rate at which health care costs are increasing for families. See press coverage on the report
July will bring intense debate on this issue and Nebraska Appleseed will do its part to ensure that it is frank, truthful, and productive.