The Senate Finance Committee just voted out their health reform bill, with all Democrats and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe voting for it. Wendell Potter, the former insurance industry executive turned whistleblower said today:
"Take it from me," Potter says, "the Senate Finance bill is a dream come true of the health insurance industry. If there is not public option insurance companies aren't going to change. The choice of a public health insurance option is the only way to keep insurance companies honest."
Now, the Senate has a choice: Will the Senate move forward with a bill that works for the American people, or one that works for the insurance industry?
The Finance bill is out of step with the other bills passed by three committees in the House and one in the Senate:
- The bill is not affordable, costing families thousands of dollars more [pdf] than Kennedy's HELP bill
- The bill does not ask employers to pitch in their fair share for their employee's health care
- The bill raises money by taxing the middle class, not the wealthy who can most afford it
- The bill does not give us a choice of a public health insurance option
Americans know what's good for them. They reject the idea of being forced to buy insurance without a public health insurance option in polling [doc] Health Care for America Now commissioned from Anzalone Liszt Research and Lake Research Partners:
Nationally, voters oppose a mandate to purchase private insurance by 64% to 34% but support a mandate with a choice of private or public insurance by 60% to 37%.
National House Swing Districts
Maine "Requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a private health insurance plan" Oppose
64% to 34%
60% to 34%
55% to 35%
"Requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a health insurance plan with a choice between a public option and private insurance plans" Favor
60% to 37%
50% to 46%
55% to 40%
Note: Half of those surveyed were asked each question.
In the same poll, Americans support employer responsibility provisions 61% to 39%, oppose taxing of their health benefits, 54% to 41%, and support taxing households making more than three hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year, 60% to 40%.
The Senate has a choice. They should keep in mind the polls and do what the American people want: Give us quality, affordable health care, fair financing, and a choice of a public health insurance option.
Here's the statement from Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now:
“The end of the Senate Finance Committee’s process marks the beginning of the next phase – crafting a strong bill that goes to the Senate floor. The HELP Committee bill offers a better path forward in the Senate than the Finance Committee bill.
The Senate Finance Committee bill falls short on making insurance affordable to America’s families, gives employers a “free ride,” and does not create meaningful competition in the insurance market with a strong national public health insurance option. The HELP bill makes health insurance affordable to families through subsidies, lowers the cost of insurance with a public health insurance option, and promotes shared responsibility with an employer requirement to contribute to coverage.
We’re closer than ever to achieving a guarantee of good, affordable health care for America’s families and businesses, and we’re counting on Senators to put their constituents ahead of the big insurers and vote for real reform. ”