State Legislators Press for Public Option in Health Reform


8-18-09, 11:00 am

On the heels of media reports that the Obama administration might support a Senate bill that excludes a public insurance program, the White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform reiterated its support for a health reform package that includes a public insurance option.

The White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform is a group of elected officials from 26 states who have worked closely with the Obama administration to coordinate grassroots support for health reform.

According to a recent press statement from the group, the group responded to recent media reports and rumors by gathering the signatures of 850 state legislators from both parties in all 50 states on a letter to the President endorsing the public health insurance option.

Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch, chair of the White House Working Group, said 'The White House continues to support the public option and the White House Working Group will continue to work strenuously in all 50 states to see that it is passed into law.'

He added, 'We cannot let a small group hijack the debate and distract us from the most historic chance we've had in generations to improve the quality of life in this country.'

In July, the National Conference of State Legislatures, which represents state legislative body in the country, voted to endorse the public option by a nearly 4-to-1 margin, with 38 states supporting and 11 opposed.

State legislators support the public option so overwhelmingly because they are closest to local communities and understand most directly the harm the status quo imposes on working families, Hatch indicated.

'As state legislators, we're on the ground listening to our constituents every day,' Hatch said in a press statement. 'We know the majority of them support the public option. We also see first hand the devastating effect spiraling health care costs have had on families, businesses and state budgets. And we remain convinced that a public option is the only way to curb these costs and to give our constituents the full range of choices for quality affordable care that they deserve.'

Supporters of the public insurance program say providing such a choice to health insurance consumers is the only way to create real competition in the insurance market and to guarantee universal, affordable coverage.