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It's Now or Never for a Public Option: Why We Need to Take a Stand Against the Insurance Industry's Greed

We are at a crucial moment in the health care debate -- Obama needs pressure from all of us to keep the public option as part of his agenda.
 
 
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Editor's note: It's now or never for the public option. Campaign for America's Future has put together 4 key actions you can take to win back the health care debate. "We absolutely cannot let the far right fringe do the bidding of the insurance and drug lobbies and hijack the debate," they write. "The battle for health care reform has moved to town halls during the August congressional recess. But the wild mobs disrupting events, intimidating lawmakers, and shouting down reform are not just expressing their views, they are doing the dirty work for corporate interests that want to cut the heart out of the Obama health plan."As Joshua Holland explained in a recent article, this fight is about making your health care more affordable, giving you better coverage and helping people who have no coverage under the current system.

Now or never -- Push for the public option:

1. Call your representative and senators to find out when and where August town halls will be in your area, using the main congressional switchboard number: (202) 224-3121. You can also check this calendar.

2. Go to the Congress.org congressional directory to get the direct phone lines of your representatives' offices.

3. Find out when and where citizen groups will be meeting and organizing throughout August, and find out what's happening in your area at Health Care for America Now.

4. When you're at a town hall, communicate a simple message for your representatives to understand what their constituents want:

  • I support health care reform with a strong public plan option—and most people I know do, too.
  • We sent you to Washington to get health care for all—and we will support you if you work to get that done.
  • Please ignore the right-wing extremists who are attacking health reform—and do what a majority of your constituents want: Vote for health care for all.

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It's Now or Never for a Public Option: Why We Need to Take a Stand Against to the Insurance Industry's Greed

by Joshua Holland

The Obama administration took a single-payer solution to America's health care crisis "off the table" at the outset of the debate. Since then it has cut dubious "deals" with Big Pharma and the private hospital industry. And finally, this weekend, officials signaled that the Obama team might be willing to jettison the central progressive plank of reform: the creation of a publicly run insurance program that could compete with private insurers.

On CNN, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the public option wasn't "the essential element" of reform, and at a town hall in Colorado on Saturday, President Barack Obama himself said of the public option: "whether we have it or we don't have it, [it] is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."

It may be just one "aspect" of health reform, but without it, the legislation promises to be a massive rip-off; a taxpayer give-away of hundreds of billions of dollars to an unreformed 'disease care' industry.

The industry would get millions of new customers thanks to generous government subsidies and a law requiring that (almost) everyone carry insurance. And that windfall would come without the structural changes needed to bend the medical "cost curve" in years to come -- without any provisions that might endanger the industry's bottom line.

The number of uninsured would plummet -- obviously a good thing -- but with little potential to control costs or come up with innovations in terms of delivering care or controlling overhead, it would achieve only incremental improvements in Americans' health -- and economic -- security overall.

 
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