From The Hill

Public option — accept nothing less
By Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) –
09/22/09 05:26 PM ET

Reforming healthcare is more than angry town halls and political rhetoric thrown around cable news shows and in the halls of Congress. It is a serious matter that requires serious solutions. Members of Congress have an obligation to make access to healthcare affordable and accessible and take control of the ballooning costs. These skyrocketing costs are consuming budgets, overwhelming families and crippling our nation’s resources.

For decades, this country has endured a broken system that restricts and denies coverage when individuals need it most. Everyday, my office hears heartbreaking stories of individuals and families losing their insurance due to pre-existing conditions, bankruptcies and the exorbitant cost of care. Even for those with “good quality” healthcare coverage, the premiums alone force many to choose between medication or food on the table.

Some members of Congress are not making it easy to pass true reform. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently released his version of healthcare reform.

However, his bill fails to meet the most basic principles of healthcare reform. The legislation presented is nothing more than a giveaway to the insurance companies. It is telling that even with the concessions made to the bill, no member of the Senate, including the “Gang of Six,” stood with him in support.

The Baucus bill is all about the insurance industry’s bottom line: no teeth in enforcements and regulations, endless patent hoarding for the pharmaceutical industry and laws that rein in citizens to pay these industries the largest transfer of wealth in history.

The lack of competition among health insurance companies is crippling consumer choice, driving up prices and hurting those who need healthcare the most. A robust public option will make the private insurance companies compete, help bring down out of control prices, and ensure that the American people are guaranteed a choice when searching for affordable, quality healthcare.

Republicans are not going to support any healthcare bill we put forth. It is time for Democrats to start talking honestly among themselves about what is best for the American people, not offering watered down bills to appease Republicans and the insurance company executives who have them in their pockets.

President Obama’s recognition of a public option as an integral part of the healthcare reform legislation is a good first step; now, he needs to be more direct about what the public option means and what it will do for the American people. President Obama must live up to the promises he made about real change and prove that he truly stands for the uninsured and working families that need and demand a public option.

We in the majority must have the courage to do what is in our power to do, and pass a bill that guarantees access to affordable, quality healthcare.

Rest of this Op-Ed at the link above.

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