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Healthcare Reform: How to Save the Public Option

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 8/18/09

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A lot of negative things have been said about healthcare reform recently. Much of it is genuine concern from people who are worried about theirs and their children's futures. And some if it is downright untrue, like Sarah Palin and "death panels" and Congressman John Shadegg's conspiracy for the government to have access to personal checking accounts.

However, there is one constant that has always been brought up by both Republicans conservative Democrats alike, and that is the ability of the private insurance industry to compete with a government run healthcare plan. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which the private healthcare industry may be destroyed by a system backed by taxpayers. In a recent town hall event in Grand Junction, Colorado, President Obama was asked this very question, and had a difficult time answering.

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If the question of "how can private healthcare not be obliterated by a private option' can be answered clearly and concisely, then healthcare reform can be passed with the public option intact.

Why a public option?

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If we accept the premise that everyone in America deserves healthcare, that medical care is a human right, then we must have a method of insuring the millions of uninsured Americans. Increasingly, the idea of public co-ops is gaining ground.

However, a series of such co-ops would certainly be too small to negotiate low premiums and bargain for cheaper pharmaceuticals. Worse yet, the insurance premiums and co-pays may not even be able to bring down the cost of insurance for those who need it.

Instead, America needs a nationwide system, similar to Medicare, one that can provide inexpensive medical care and the kinds of costs consumers are used to dealing with through employer based HMOs and PPOs.

The Solution

How do we get an affordable public health insurance company and not undercut the private health insurance industry at the same time? By putting in place commonsense rules that make sure the public option is only available to those who need it.

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1.Make the public option available to only those who need it: Small business owners (i.e. businesses of under 300 employees), employees of small businesses, those who are unable to work enough hours to be considered full time employees, and the remainder of the uninsured masses.

The beneficiaries of inexpensive public healthcare are obviously the working class; Americans who don't have medical insurance through their employer, and can't afford private insurance. These men and women are the part time Target employees right down to workers at small businesses.

Those who are able to buy an expensive private plan pay over $300 a month, and are often doing so at the expense of other necessities and common luxuries. With a public option, those workers could have affordable healthcare, and spend their extra money on purchasing a home or vehicle, vacationing, dining out, and all of the things that drives the markets. A public option is good for the economy.

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www.revrob.com
Founder of "The Rev. Rob Times," (www.revrob.com) Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra has been a longtime student of journalism. From Phoenix, Arizona.

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