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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus


Lawmakers asked to include public option in health care reform

Friday, Sep. 11, 2009

In letters to central Ohio's Congressional delegation today, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus insisted that public health insurance be part of any health care reform measure.

The correspondence was sent in response to an action alert issued by the League of Women Voters of the United States. The following members of Congress were contacted:

The full text of the letter follows:

On behalf of the board of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus and our hundreds of members across central Ohio, I strongly urge you to support strong health care reform legislation that:

America is facing a health care crisis caused by a combination of skyrocketing costs and an insurance system that leaves 47 million of us without any coverage. The current health care system is endangering both our economy and our health, and voters have made it clear that they want change. According to a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, 70 percent of Americans surveyed believe the health care system needs major changes, if not a complete overhaul. 

All Americans must have health care coverage, including the choice of a quality, affordable public insurance plan. It is universal coverage that will determine the humanity of our system. We believe that health care reform legislation must guarantee access to comprehensive and essential benefits to all U.S. residents.

But coverage is not enough. We need to provide for quality and safety in the health care system. We believe that health care legislation must establish a system-wide program to coordinate information, establish best practices and provide consumers the information they need to protect themselves and their families. It is essential that comparative data on treatments, benefits packages and medical outcomes be made publicly available so that individuals can make informed health decisions and so that costs can be controlled.

The federal government needs to take additional strong action to reduce the costs of health care for individuals, businesses and communities. As a nation, we are spending $1 out of every $6 we earn on health care. Over the last three decades, increases in the amount we spend on health care have consistently risen faster than wages and inflation. If nothing is done to control costs, we could be spending $3 trillion for health care by 2011 and $4.2 trillion by 2016.

The League believes that cost-containment measures must take place in the context of overall health care reform. We must reduce or eliminate the cost-shifting that currently exists in health care financing and work to streamline the system. Legislation must provide effective cost controls and equitable distribution of services while allowing for efficient and economical delivery of care. Offering everyone the choice of a government-administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans will be key.

To achieve this kind of comprehensive, system-wide reform will take a shared effort by citizens and Congress. The League of Women Voters is ready to work with you to reach this goal. The current health care system is endangering both our economy and our health. Business as usual is not an option. We need real health care reform.