Senator calls for public health insurance as part of health care reform

by Lesley Politi on April 30, 2009

Senator calls for public health insurance as part of health care reform

Published April 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – Forty-six million Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 are without health insurance. As many as 25 million more are underinsured. It’s a problem U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said urgently needs addressed.

Brown, D-Ohio, said Wednesday he is pushing to see Congress approve funds for public health insurance as part of the budget. A public health plan option would help lower health costs, improve quality of care, and ensure access in rural and other underserved areas, Brown said.

“Comprehensive health reform is not only a moral issue it’s critical to getting our economy back on track,” Brown said. “We can’t achieve economic prosperity if families are only one hospital visit away from financial disaster or American businesses struggle to compete globally due to health care costs.”

As many as 1.2 million Ohioans are without health insurance, Brown said. The senator also said the number of Ohioans without coverage is increasing in many parts of the state.

Brown cited statistics from the Ohio Family Health Survey that show an increase in the number of uninsured adults in the state. The percent of uninsured in Allen County rose 3.44 percent from 2004 to 2008.

According to Brown, a public health plan option is not meant to eliminate the private insurance system in place now. The public health plan option is designed to provide competition.

“We must preserve access to employer-sponsored health care while increasing competition in the private market,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, HMOs and private insurers always seem to be one step ahead of the sheriff. Including a public health plan option will keep costs down while ensuring coverage is comprehensive and accessible.”


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