The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Kelly Ceballos
(202) 263-1331

Public Option Essential to Health Reform

Senate Finance Committee Fails to Protect Consumer Choice and Control Costs


League of Women Voters national President Mary G. Wilson expressed
disappointment with the Senate Finance Committee votes defeating
amendments to include a public option in health care reform legislation
in the following statement:

"The public option is the key to consumer choice and to lowering health care costs. Both are essential elements of health care reform. The Finance Committee's failure will hurt consumers and result in higher costs. How could they be so short-sighted?

"The current health care system is endangering our economy, our health, and our national security. Congress
needs to pass comprehensive health care reform and the public option is
vital. It is universal coverage that will determine the humanity of our
system and a public option will make that possible for Americans who
cannot obtain coverage through the traditional employer-sponsored
plans. We believe that health care reform legislation must guarantee
access to comprehensive and essential benefits to all U.S. residents.

"But the possibility of universal coverage is not the only advantage of
the public option. We must control costs and the public option is the
best chance to bring costs into line with reality. As a nation, we are
spending $1 out of every $6 we earn on health care. Offering everyone
the choice of a government administered health insurance plan like
Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans is key
to lowering costs and providing real choice to consumers.

"The public option is critical to health care reform. Congress and the President need to demonstrate real leadership and move forward, not backward, with true health care reform."

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.