The commitment on public plan competition…

Health Wonk Review has a full, robust biweekly compendium of posts at Joe Paduda’s Managed Care Matters, whic week all focused on the health reform debate.

Much of the debate is on the proposal to have a public health insurance option, so people are not solely at the mercy of the big insurance companies. It is strange this is controversial in the national debate: after all, in California, we have several public health coverage options, such as local county-run plans.

Given that most of the plans have an individual requirement to take coverage, the public health insurance option becomes even more important to making everything work. Imagine the requirement that all children enroll in school without the creation of a public school system.

The American Medical Association was reported to be dead set against the public option, but today they clarified their position and left room for negotiation, as reported by Health Care for America Now’s blog.

Last week, the “Blue Dog” coalition of conservative Representatives put out a statement in favor of health reform, but with lots of provisions to restrict a public health insurance option, including a “trigger” mechanism that would delay or ultimately deny any such choice. But since then, many members of the Blue Dogs have distanced themselves from the statement, and come out in favor of strong public health coverage option.

That certainly includes California’s “Blue Dog” representatives, who are generally coming out in favor of a strong public health insurance option. This includes Rep. Mike Thompson who has an editorial on the Huffington Post:

We need to make sure that people who are happy with the coverage they have can keep it. We need to make sure that the American people will be able to keep their doctors, and have a say in their health care decisions. But we must expand the options, so that Americans who don’t like their plan, or don’t have health care coverage, have a choice. And we can’t afford to wait for an arbitrary “trigger” to be pulled to put this reform into operation. If that is part of the bill, reform will likely never happen.

A public plan that provides true competition will be an important part of this reform. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a widely respected non-profit health policy research foundation, nearly two thirds of Americans agree with me that we need to make sure that all Americans have access to affordable health care by providing an alternative to the private insurance options that are on the market.

Two other Blue Dogs also made clear that they still support a public health insurance option, detailed by OC Progressive as well as the Huffington Post:

Harman, in a statement, said she supports a public option without a trigger. “I will oppose any plan that does not include this option, and am unwavering in my opposition to the so-called ‘Blue Dog trigger,'” said Harman. […]

Harman said she’s sticking by her pledge.

“I am proud to have signed the HCAN (Health Care for America Now!) pledge to seek universal coverage,” she said. “I am a strong supporter of universal health coverage, which is why I support the health care reform plan being developed by
President Obama, Senator [Ted] Kennedy, and Congressman [Henry] Waxman. Like them, I believe that the bill must include a public health insurance option which guarantees all Americans access to quality, affordable health care.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a Blue Dog who also signed the pledge, told the Huffington Post she backs a public option without a trigger. “America can’t afford to wait for health care reform. While a single-payer system would be ideal, I am prepared to support other measures that also reduce costs, preserve doctor choice, and assure affordable, quality health care for all Americans,” she said in a statement. “I think a public option without a trigger would be a good way to fix what’s wrong with health care while preserving what works.”

These Representative committed to the HCAN principles last year with over two dozen other Californians, and now they are keeping their commitments. Good. This includes Rep. Doris Matsui, giving an interview in the Sacramento Bee:

Our public option is going to be just another aspect of it. Put it out there, and they can compete. I think we’re going to have to have competition … to get the best possible health care at the lowest cost possible.

We’re checking in with other Congressional offices up and down the state, but the trend looks good.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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