Public Option Supporters Keep Hope Alive

WHYY News and Information — Friday, October 2, 2009

By: Taunya English

Bids for a government-run insurance plan came up short during health reform debates in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee this week but both public-option supporters and opponents say the idea is not dead yet.


To the left, click the "Q" (QuickTime) or   >  to play, or download the 176K mp4 file, of the WHYY news segment (1 minute).

James Woodson is an organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action. The coalition wants a health overhaul that includes a new public health plan. Woodson says the fight for such a plan is not over.

Woodson: It's sort of just beginning, Senator Schumer, who's kind of taking the lead has said that he sees a path to actually having the public option included in the final bill.

New York Senator Charles Schumer and other Democrats say they will lobby for the public option again when the bill moves to the full Senate for a vote. Meanwhile, opponents of the plan continue to criticize it, calling a public option a "government takeover" of healthcare.

Policy analysts say the public option may also resurface when the House and Senate come together to reconcile their health reform bills.

Bucks County resident Phil Schiever is an organizer for the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, the group advocates less government spending and opposes the public option. Schiever says the public option will put private, for-profit insurance companies out of business.

Schiever: Profit is what makes our economy go quite frankly and if you take it out of everything we are going to wind up much like Cuba or one of those other totalitarian states.

During summer town hall meetings, opponents cast the public option as an overgrown bully that would box out other competitors. Supporters say Americans need more affordable health insurance options.

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