Obama Pitches Public Plan as Part of Health Care Reform Proposal
On Thursday, President Obama pressed for the inclusion of a government-run health insurance option in reform legislation during a town-hall meeting in Green Bay, Wis., saying that it would keep private insurers "honest and help keep prices down," the Washington Post reports (Fletcher/Murray, Washington Post, 6/12).
Obama said that he supports a public option "not because we want a government takeover of health care," but because "we want some competition." He added that "if you've got a private plan that works for you, that's great" (Lee, Politico, 6/11).
Obama described his proposal for a health insurance exchange that would offer U.S. residents "a one-stop shop for a health care plan, (to) compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that's best for you," including the option of a public plan.
He said that none of the plans in the exchange "would be able to deny coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, and all should include an affordable, basic benefit package." He added that "if you can't afford one of the plans, we should provide assistance to make sure you can" (Youngman, The Hill, 6/11).
Obama said, "Right now a number of my Republican friends have said, 'We can't support anything with a public option,'" but it is "not clear that it's based on any evidence as much as it is their thinking, their fear, that somehow once you have a public plan that government will take over the entire health care system" (Stolberg/Pear, New York Times, 6/12).
Obama added, "I don't want government to run stuff. Like I said, I've got enough stuff to do." He continued, "I think it'd be great if the health care system was working perfectly and we didn't have to be involved at all," but that is "not how it's worked" (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 6/12).
"We've got to admit that the free market has not worked perfectly when it comes to health care. That's why I've said that I think a public option would make sense," he said (Politico, 6/11).
Obama also addressed concerns regarding the cost of overhaul legislation. He said, "I can assure you that doing nothing will cost us far more in the coming years," adding, "Our deficits will be higher. Our premiums will go up. Our wages will be lower, our jobs will be fewer and our businesses will suffer" (Elliot, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/11).
According to Obama, "The single biggest problem we have in terms of the debt and the deficit is health care" (Los Angeles Times, 6/12). Obama also said that he will outline additional savings "in the days to come," but acknowledged that "even with these savings, reform will require additional sources of revenue" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/11).Obama said, "In all these reforms, our goal is simple: the highest quality health care at the lowest possible cost," adding, "We want to fix what's broken, build on what works." He said, "I welcome all ideas. We've got to have a good debate. What I will not welcome -- I will not accept is endless delay or denial that reform needs to happen" (Politico, 6/11). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.