Major House and Senate committees last week released drafts of health care reform proposals just as President Obama took his case for reform to the American people.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Thurs. June 11, President Obama reminded Americans about the necessity of passing health reform as soon as possible. ‘We have the most expensive health care system in the world, bar none,’ he said. ‘We spend almost 50 percent more per person on health care than the next most expensive nation – 50 percent more. But here’s the thing, Green Bay: We’re not any healthier for it.’

The president further reiterated his support for including a public option in the final healthcare reform package. ‘I also strongly believe that one of the options … should be a public insurance option,’ Obama stated. ‘And the reason is not because we want a government takeover of health care – I’ve already said if you’ve got a private plan that works for you, that’s great.’

Competition and choices about which kind of insurance consumers have access to is the key reason for including a public option, the President explained. ‘We want some competition. If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it’ll keep them honest and it’ll help keep their prices down.’

The draft proposals produced by congressional Democrats have included a public option. Early analysis of the Senate concept, which was drafted by the Senate Health Committee chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., showed it would provide a choice of private or public health coverage, an employer mandate and a guarantee against insurance companies refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Labor welcomed this draft of the reform bill. In a statement last week, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, ‘The strong draft of the Americans Health Choices Act that the Committee made public this week demonstrates their commitment to comprehensive reform and the kind of leadership and energy the country needs to finally win quality, affordable health care for all.’

“We have waited a long time for this day,” said Edward F. Coyle, executive director of the labor affiliated Alliance for Retired Americans. “Now we need to see health care reform through to the end.”

A draft plan written by the House Health Committee would create a national health ‘exchange’ that would also include the choice between private and public insurance plans.

Other national health care reform advocacy groups are studying the progress of these draft proposals through Congress. (HCAN), a national coalition of more than 1,000 groups, including labor unions, small business groups and community organizations in 44 states, supports a reform package similar to President Obama’s.

Margarida Jorge, the national field director for HCAN, said that the legislative process is moving swiftly and that her organization is working with key legislators to ensure the final outcome will contain the key principles her organization supports.

‘We focus on four key principles – affordability, choice, equity and coverage for all,’ Jorge remarked.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, president of , told reporters last week that doctors all across the country share similar goals for reform. ‘As physicians,’ he said, ‘we are seeing everyday examples of how the private insurance industry is failing our patients.’

‘We know that a robust, well-crafted public plan, a plan that basically gives our patients more access that they need, that provides them with choice over their insurer, that rewards physicians for delivering the kind of care that they want, and also provides quality and promotes prevention and wellness, is the kind of plan that patients and physicians need this year,’ Murthy stated.

According to Jorge, HCAN will be bring some 7,000 people to Washington, D.C. June 25, for a massive healthcare reform rally and lobby day action. Hundreds of activists will be visiting with more than 300 members of Congress that day to advocate for these core reform principles. Town hall meetings and local congressional visits are also in the works.