It’s Time to Pull the Trigger on a Public Health Insurance Plan Option!

Faced with overwhelming popular support for a public health insurance plan option, insurance company apologists have been scrambling for ways to keep such real competition from encroaching on industry profits. One such method is the idea of a 'trigger.'

The New York Times describes the trigger as "a possible compromise under which the government would offer its own health plan only if private insurers failed to provide affordable coverage."

By that criterion, it's time to pull the trigger!

Why do you think we need health care reform in the first place? Precisely because the private insurers that dominate health insurance coverage for people under 65 have failed miserably to contain costs and guarantee all of us access to quality, affordable health care when we need it.

Private insurers have failed miserably the 45,000 of us who die each year because we do not have health insurance.

Private insurers have failed miserably the hundreds of thousands of us who have to file for bankruptcy every year because of medical bills even though we have health insurance.

Private insurers have failed miserably to contain skyrocketing health care inflation for the majority of us who have health insurance:

ten year growth in health care premiums

Private insurers have failed miserably the hundreds of thousand of us, like Dawn, who faithfully pay our premiums and are then denied care when we it:

We already have more than enough hard evidence to convict the private health insurance companies beyond a reasonable doubt. Condemn them to real competition from a government-run health insurance plan that answers to the public and not to Wall Street.

It's time to pull the trigger!

As Jacob Hacker, Professor of Political Science at Yale University, put it in his Congressional testimony:

"Some have said that we should wait to see if private health insurance turns itself around before we create a public plan. This would be a grave mistake. Any reasonable 'trigger' based on the failure of private insurance to provide affordable comprehensive coverage should have been pulled a long time ago. Triggers have not worked in the past [learn more], and a trigger has no chance of working unless it is based on a single national standard and prompts the immediate creation of a national public plan, rather than the introduction of a public plan on a decentralized market-by-market basis. But supporters of the trigger have not seriously entertained ideas like these because they do not seriously entertain a competing public plan."

But, unfortunately, it is not just conservatives who are pushing the idea of a 'trigger.' According to Mike Lux, it may be Triggering a Democratic Civil War:

"Some senior White House staffers are now beginning to try to sell this trigger to progressive groups as the compromise version of a public option, saying the White House doesn't want to have a floor fight in the Senate, and that they can always fix it in conference committee. That way they can pick up Snowe, satisfy that desperate urge for being officially bipartisan (even though Snowe can't bring a single other Republican with her), and not have to worry about procedural hassles in the Senate. But by finally winning Snowe over, the White House is risking something far more politically dangerous: an ugly fight within the Democratic Party, further erosion of Obama's standing with his base, the specter of more primary fights."

Don't be fooled—no matter who tries to sell you on the idea. The trigger is a bullet aimed straight at the heart of the public health insurance plan option. Don't let our only hope of true health care reform die.

Let the president, your representatives and your senators know that you demand a public health insurance plan option NOW!

09-25-09 By Monica Sanchez | Comment (0)


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