October 23, 2009
Dear Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel:
We, the undersigned alliance for a robust public option, write to request that President Obama heed the will of the people and the organized progressive grassroots and take a strong leadership position in support of a robust public option. The public has spoken and the majority of members of Congress have spoken: Health care reform must include a robust public option.
A robust public health insurance option is central to reform; it saves people money, saves the government money, is popular with majority members of Congress, very popular with the public at large, and helps fulfill the promise of equality and opportunity that America strives for. We firmly believe a public option is necessary to slow cost growth, and to keep insurance companies honest. This option should be made available nationwide on day one, be publicly accountable, and possess the authority to establish rates that pay providers fairly.
Including a public option in health care reform is the fiscally responsible thing to do. A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House health care plan (HR 3200), including a robust public option, would cost less than other plans and would reduce the deficit in the first 10 years.
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A strong public health insurance option is what a majority of Americans want and is supported by a majority of those in Congress. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 57% of all Americans favor a public option. Also, polls recently conducted nationally, in swing districts, and in Maine, suggest that Americans think a public plan is essential if they are to be required to have health insurance. Support for an individual mandate increases from around 40 percent to more than 60 percent if that mandate is coupled with the creation of a new public option. Failing to ensure that an affordable public option is available in all parts of the nation could seriously undermine support for the new system.
Including a public option in health care reform is also the morally right thing to do. Studies have shown that communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, women, young people and the LGBT community all have additional barriers to comprehensive and affordable coverage. Affordability and accessibility of care is a key concern for these communities. Our country is only as strong as our most vulnerable citizen, and all Americans deserve the opportunity to access quality and affordable health care. A public option would help provide this equality and opportunity.
The House has shown leadership by moving forward health care reform that includes a robust public option. We respectfully ask that the Office of the President take a stronger stand on a robust public option in order to enact true health care reform this year. We request a meeting with you at your earliest opportunity to further discuss this matter.
African American Health Alliance
Alliance for Health Care
American Federation of Government Employees
American Medical Student Association
Campaign for America's Future
Campaign for Better Health Care, Illinois
Center for Policy Analysis
Democracy for America
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Doctors Council of the District of Columbia/NUHHCE/AFSCME
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Equal Justice Society
Faith United Church of Christ
Ian Mackey, Democratic National Convention Delegate 2008
Matt Adler, Democratic National Convention Delegate 2008
Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO
MoveOn.org Political Action
National Black Nurses Association
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Physicians Alliance
National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees
National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees 1199J
Out of Many, One
People For the American Way's African American Ministers in Action
Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ
Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Progressive States Network
Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition
Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Roger Manno, Maryland State Delegate
Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
The Cave Institute
The Honorable Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, Maryland State Delegate
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
Universal Health Care Action Network
Young Americans for Healthcare Reform