U.S. Rep. DeGette makes case for public option at Facebook town hall

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Diana Degette conducted a Facebook question-and-answer session on health reform. She told participants that she strongly supported a public option, even though she expressed doubts that a public option could pass given the present tenor of debate. She did not say directly whether she would vote for a bill that did not include a public option.

“I am working to support H.R. 3200, which is a comprehensive health reform bill. Among other things, it will establish a public option which will create true competition in the insurance market,” Degette wrote at the Facebook forum.

“Many Americans support a single payer system, and I will vote for an amendment to establish such a system. I don’t believe, however, that there is enough support in Congress to pass this law and it is imperative that make a national change that will cover everyone and increase efficiencies.”

DeGette said she felt a public option would win enough votes to pass in the House and asked that people lobby their Senators to make certain that the public option remains a part of the bill.

“I believe that the public option will pass the House of Representatives. Citizens should lobby their Senators to ensure that the Senate plan (still being considered in the Senate Finance Committee) will contain a public option,” DeGette wrote.

DeGette also atte,pted to spell out why a public option was vital in addressing problems presently plaguing U.S. health care.

“The reason we need a public option or some other alternative to for-profit insurance plans is that we have to bring costs for consumers under control. If we don’t have an alternative, insurance companies will just continue to increase premiums and their own profits.”

Massachusetts, a favorite example of reform failure for opponents of the proposed federal legislation, actually provides a good example for why a public option makes sense, said DeGette.

“Massachusetts established an insurance exchange without a public option and, while they insured a lot more people, they also did not contain costs, so people’s premiums and health care costs continued to escalate. That is why we need a public option or some other kind of robust alternative [to private insurance].”

DeGette closed the forum by stating her resolve to go back to Congress and pass health care reform.

“I always try to pass legislation on a bi-partisan basis. However, if the Republicans won’t work with us, we have no choice but to pass a bill.”

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