Though President Obama and 73 percent of voters strongly support a new public health insurance plan that can compete with private insurers equally and transparently within an insurance exchange, some lawmakers have indicated that a public plan may not be part of the final reform legislation. Yesterday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus threatened “to vote against any health plan that doesn’t include a public plan option.” “We have polled CPC members very carefully in recent weeks and a strong majority will only support comprehensive healthcare reform legislation that includes a public plan option on a level playing field with private health insurance plans,” explained CPC co-chairmen Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has recently said that the public plan is just a bargaining chip to “encourage the private health insurance industry to move in the direction it knows it should move toward — namely, health insurance reform, which means eliminating pre-existing conditions, guaranteed issue, modified community rating.” “I think we can accomplish” health care reform “without” a public plan, Baucus said in an interview with The Progress Report. The insurance industry asserts that a new public plan would underpay medical providers, increase costs for Americans with insurance, and force millions to leave the employer market and move into a public plan. There is also limited bipartisan support for the plan. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has warned that there is “no GOP support for a plan that included a government option” and in March, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sent a letter to Obama, effectively taking this option off the table.
From The Progress Report