But first, though, in case you didn’t receive Rep. Bill Foster’s automated phone call: He’s now got an outreach program of constituent services for “any problems you are having with the federal government,” such as social security or veterans’ issues. You can find the congressman’s staff on hand to help you in the DeKalb Public Library on the second Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m.
Moving on…Rep. Foster is one of 22 representatives who have signed a letter to the congressional leadership in support of a “robust public health insurance option” in healthcare legislation.
The heart of their argument:
First, it will guarantee competition and choice. According to the American Medical Association, 94 percent of state insurance markets in the United states are not competitive. That level of concentration has stifled competition and allowed premiums to rise four times faster than wages over the last nine years. Second, it will lower costs and improve efficiency. Between 1997 and 2006, private health insurance premiums increased an average of 7.3 percent year [sic], while Medicare spending per enrollee rose by only 4.6 percent for the same benefits — making private insurance growth 59 percent faster than Medicare. Third, it will provide a necessary benchmark and transparency. A public health insurance option will set a standard against which private insurers have to compete, while giving us necessary information on utilitization and payments that private insurers have refused to divulge. Fourth, it will expand access, ensure health equity, and guarantee coverage stability. A public health insurance option will be available and remain available for all consumers in all parts of the country.
The reps also support a level playing field; i.e., the public option should enjoy no regulatory advantages over private insurers. (I am not sure how that is achieved, but for starters try to avoid US Postal Service pitfalls.)
Tell Mr. Foster what you think of his position here.