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State Legislators Press for Public Option in Health Reform

By       Message Joel Wendland     Permalink
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On the heels of media reports that the Obama administration might
support a Senate bill that excludes a public insurance program, the
White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform
reiterated its support for a health reform package that includes a
public insurance option.

The White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health
Reform is a group of elected officials from 26 states who have worked
closely with the Obama administration to coordinate grassroots support
for health reform.

According to a recent press statement from the group, the group
responded to recent media reports and rumors by gathering the
signatures of 850 state legislators from both parties in all 50 states
on a letter to the President endorsing the public health insurance

Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch, chair of the White House Working
Group, said "The White House continues to support the public option and
the White House Working Group will continue to work strenuously in all
50 states to see that it is passed into law."

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He added, "We cannot let a small group hijack the debate and
distract us from the most historic chance we've had in generations to
improve the quality of life in this country."

In July, the National Conference of State Legislatures, which
represents state legislative body in the country, voted to endorse the
public option by a nearly 4-to-1 margin, with 38 states supporting and
11 opposed.

State legislators support the public option so overwhelmingly
because they are closest to local communities and understand most
directly the harm the status quo imposes on working families, Hatch

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"As state legislators, we're on the ground listening to our
constituents every day," Hatch said in a press statement. "We know the
majority of them support the public option. We also see first hand the
devastating effect spiraling health care costs have had on families,
businesses and state budgets. And we remain convinced that a public
option is the only way to curb these costs and to give our constituents
the full range of choices for quality affordable care that they

Supporters of the public insurance program say providing such a
choice to health insurance consumers is the only way to create real
competition in the insurance market and to guarantee universal,
affordable coverage.
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--Joel Wendland is editor of Political Affairs.

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