Roger Hickey, Campaign for America’s Future Co-Director, Carries Message to Obama Health Summit: Public Health Insurance Plan

As the White House prepares to convene its summit on health care on Thursday, Campaign for America’s Future Co-Director Roger Hickey, who will attend the White House meeting, is stressing the importance of a public insurance plan as a crucial tool to address the rising cost of health care, which, as President Obama declared at last week’s fiscal summit, “is the single most pressing fiscal challenge we face by far.”

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) will be hosting a press call at 9:30 am Thursday, March 5 prior to the president’s summit. Call-in number 1-800-895-0231, code: health care. For more information on the call contact Jacki Schechner (202) 454-6196. Hickey, a founder and steering committee member of HCAN, will not be on the call but is available for comment at other times.

Hickey is joining with MoveOn and HCAN to counter the influence of lobbyists who are trying to “cut the heart out of the Obama health plan,” as their email to supporters warns. Hickey will hand deliver a petition containing 250,000 signatures to members of Congress at the summit.

“The president understands that a public health insurance option is key to expanding coverage, controlling costs, and improving quality in health care,” Hickey said. “Because of this, the president’s plan says that people will have the choice to keep the health insurance they have or they can ‘enroll in the new public plan or an approved private plan.’”

The Campaign for America’s Future, working with health policy experts, has published a number of studies showing a public health insurance plan would drive down costs and promote high-quality care. Polling shows a choice in health care plans is appealing to most Americans, and experts predict if a large number choose the public insurance plan (like Medicare), it will not only be more efficient than most private insurance plans, it will also have the leverage to institute cost-saving and quality-enhancing reforms with an impact on the whole health economy. Hickey warns that without a public plan option to compete with private insurance, health costs will continue to skyrocket. In 40 states the top three carriers account for between 60 and 100 percent of the market.

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The following reports and resources make the case for a public plan option:

• “Obama Health Plan” by Barack Obama http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/HealthCareFullPlan.pdf

• “The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System” by the Commonwealth Fund at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2009/Feb/The-Path-to-a-High-Performance-US-Health-System.aspx

• “The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform: Key to Cost Control and Quality Coverage” by Jacob Hacker Ourfuture.org/hacker

• “Health Care for America” by Jacob Hacker at http://www.sharedprosperity.org/bp180.html

• “A Public Health Insurance Plan: Reducing Costs and Improving Quality” by Frank Clemente http://ourfuture.org/public_plan

• “Call to Action: Health Reform 2009” by Senator Max Baucus http://finance.senate.gov/healthreform2009/finalwhitepaper.pdf

• “Leaders and Experts Agree that a Public Insurance Option is Critical to the Success of Obama’s Health Reform Proposals” by Institute for America’s Future http://institute.ourfuture.org/files/Public_plan_quotes_Obama_Baucus_others.pdf

• “Voter support for a public health insurance plan” by Lake Research Partners http://healthcareforamericanow.org/site/content/public_rejects_insurance_industrys_misleading_claims_new_poll_shows