Minnesota lawmakers ask Congress to offer public health option

WASHINGTON - Thirty-two Minnesota legislators have signed a letter supporting the Public Insurance Option as a key part of affordable health care for all Americans. President Obama has said a public insurance plan option to essential to reform health care, but some members of Congress are balking.

Some 700 state lawmakers from all over the United States signed a letter backing a public health insurance plan option, delivered to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“Americans recognize that the private sector alone has proven incapable of creating a high-quality, fair, and accountable health care system that works for all families,” the letter says. “Therefore, a key priority for reform is the choice of a public health insurance plan that is available to businesses, individuals, and families.”

The action comes as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where Harkin is a senior member, is crafting its version of health care reform legislation. At the same time, the private insurance industry, its hired guns and anti-reform lawmakers have launched a multimillion-dollar propaganda and scare campaign to scuttle any proposed public plan option.

Harkin says the grassroots voices the state lawmakers represent are an important tool to fight back.

“The signatures of over 700 state legislators speak loud and clear for numerous Americans who want us to act now to give them a full range of choices of the best quality, affordable care our country can offer,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for a car or a washing machine or health insurance. Your best bet for getting a good deal is if two things are present: choice and competition. And that’s exactly why Americans need to have the option of a public plan as they shop for insurance under a reformed health system.”

On June 25, join thousands of union and health care activists on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for the largest-ever rally for health care reform, the AFL-CIO said.

Minnesota lawmakers who signed the letter are:

Sen. Linda Berglin, Chair, Health and Human Services Budget Division Rep. Kathy Brynaert Rep. Jim Davnie Sen. Scott Dibble Rep. Al Doty

Rep. Patti Fritz, Member, Health Care and Human Services Finance Division Committee; Member, Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee Rep. Paul Garnder, Member, Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee Rep. Alice Hausman Rep. Jeff Hayden

Rep. Frank Hornstein Rep. Melissa Hortman Rep. Sheldon Johnson Rep. Phyllis Kahn Sen. Gary Kubly Rep. Carolyn Laine, Member, Health Care & Human Services Policy & Oversight Committee

Rep. Tina Liebling, Vice Chair, Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee Rep. Bernie Lieder Rep. Diane Loeffler, Member, Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee; Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Tony Lourey

Rep. Jerry Newton Rep. Carlos Mariani Rep. Michael Paymar Sen. Lawrence Pogemiller Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Member, Health and Human Services Budget Division Committee; Member, Health, Housing and Family Security Committee Rep. Roger Reinert

Rep. Bev Scalze, Member, Health Care and Human Services Finance Division Committee Rep. Linda Slocum Rep. Loren Solberg Rep. Paul Thissen, Chair, Health Care & Human Services Policy & Oversight Rep. Jean Wagenius Rep. John Ward

The letter was organized by the Progressive States Network.