The Blog

Save the Public Option

We need to demand better on health care, and I know we can do better. I'm calling on Majority Leader Reid to push real reform that includes a public option through with reconciliation.
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I've been a strong advocate for a public option since we were just starting the health care reform debate this summer in the Senate.

The fight has been difficult, but I've remained confident that a public option will be included in our final health care legislation -- and I still believe we can include a public option.

That's why I've just sent a letter to Harry Reid calling on him to take the actions necessary to make this happen.

Including a public option in our final health care reform legislation will make that bill far more effective.

Reforming health care will curb runaway costs and save vast sums of money -- savings that will be increased by billions of dollars if we include a public option. According to the CBO, the public option would not only be budget-neutral, it could actually reduce our deficit by $130 billion in just the first 10 years.

Just as important to me is what I've learned while listening to the stories of people across Colorado: our working families want a public option -- and need a public option -- because there aren't enough real choices available for them when picking their health insurance.

In the last week alone, we've seen a major health insurer report billions of dollars in profits, while also dropping the number of people it will provide insurance for, and drastically raising premiums on the remaining customers.

This broken system is not sustainable. We need to seek real solutions that make a material difference in the lives of our working families. It's not an overstatement to say health care is a life and death issue, and for that reason we can't let reform fall victim to the usual Washington political games.

We can't let the opponents of change succeed with their same old scare tactics that confuse the issues and block progress -- we have the chance to pass major health care reforms, and we must stand up for what we think is right.

We need to put consumers in charge by giving them more choices and ending these shameful practices that work for insurance companies, but not for people in Colorado and across the country. The current health care reform bill is a historic first step in extending coverage and controlling costs, but we need to take the final step to include a public option.

With majorities in the House and the Senate, we can use the reconciliation process to include a public option in the final bill. The reconciliation process has been used for just this kind of urgent, publicly-mandated legislation before: it was used when we passed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).

Those pieces of legislation have proven critical to our children, our seniors, and some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Today, the millions of American families struggling with health insurance deserve us to fight for them too.

We have the ability, and we have the strength to prevail in this fight. Now we need to show our leaders and the opponents of change that we're not going to accept stopping just short of scoring this big victory -- we're going to do what it takes to come together and succeed in giving all Americans access to affordable, quality health care.

We need to demand better on health care, and I know we can do better.