GOP Sen. Snowe Shows Support for Public Health Plan

Are Republicans coming around to the idea of a public health care plan? Maine's moderate GOP Senator Olympia Snowe recently signaled her support.

From the Exception Magazine, an editorial by Ali Vander Zanden , a healthcare organizer at the Maine People's Alliance:

Thanks are due to Senator Olympia Snowe for recently professing her support for the creation of a public health care option as part of federal health care reform legislation. I'd like to respectfully disagree, however, with Snowe's suggestion that it might be best for such an option to kick-in several years down the road, and only if for-profit insurance companies fail to bring down costs and expand coverage.

A Capitol Hill newspaper reported yesterday that Snowe discussed the idea of a delayed public plan at a private meeting held last week, and Snowe later confirmed that report. Snowe has previously stated that she believes "We have a totally dysfunctional system now," and that a government-run health care system may be the only way to respond to the health care crisis.

A public plan is a key part of President Obama's strategy for health care reform and is a major item of debate right now in the halls of Washington.

This new support is a big step for Senator Snowe and I appreciate her leadership. Skyrocketing health insurance premiums and record insurance company profits, however, have already provided ample evidence for the need for an immediate public option. I hope that Senator Snowe will soon reach this conclusion as well.

A new report released today by Health Care for America Now gives even more weight to the argument for an immediate public plan. The report found that Health insurance premiums grew 5.4 times faster than Maine wages between 2000 and 2007 and provided examples of insurance companies engaging in questionable business tactics to increase premiums and their own profits.

Small business owners gathered in Portland today to release the report and call for a public option. I hope Senator Snowe continues to listen to them and to other voices calling for an immediate public plan.

Disclosure: I publish the Exception Magazine, Maine's online newspaper.