Washington, DC— Senators Charles Schumer, Sherrod Brown and Sheldon Whitehouse joinedJohn Arensmeyer of Small Business Majority and Gary Kalman of US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) today to discuss how the public option creates competition in the insurance industry and lowers costs for all Americans. While insurance companies are posting record profits, they continue to increase rates for individuals and businesses. Businesses – and particularly small businesses – are being saddled with rapidly increasing rates while insurance companies and their executives are reaping record profits. A public option would reduce costs across the board and would ensure competition within the insurance industry that would benefit individuals and businesses.
“Small businesses are buckling under rising health care costs, and if the status quo continues, more and more of them will be forced to stop providing coverage for their workers,” said Schumer. “This is exactly why we need the public option. With a public option, health insurers will finally have a real competitor in the market. They will be forced to put consumers before profits,”
Said Brown: “Health insurance reform isn’t just a moral issue— it’s about jobs. Small businesses are the engine of our economic growth, but too many small businesses are being crushed by rising health costs – forced to lay off employees or cut back on their own coverage. If we’re going to get our economy back on track, we need to ensure that health costs don’t undermine the competitiveness of American enterprise.”
“The public option provides an opportunity for a new day in the American health care system, where affordable, quality coverage is available to all individuals; where doctors and hospitals are paid for value not volume; where you cannot lose coverage because of an illness or be denied a policy because of a preexisting condition; where insurance company bureaucrats do not come between you and your doctor; where care is not rationed by your ability to pay; and where every American gets the very best this country’s medical system has to offer,” said Whitehouse. “With a few health insurance companies holding virtual monopolies in many states, we need a strong public option to introduce real competition and drive down costs. An industry that has put its own financial welfare over the physical and mental health of millions of Americans can’t be trusted to create such a future on its own, without a push in the marketplace.”
Said Arensmeyer: “Small business owners are being crushed under exorbitant healthcare costs. They want reform that contains costs and offers more competition, and research we’ve conducted shows they support having a choice between public and private plan options as one way to accomplish this.”
“A bloated and inefficient insurance industry has gouged consumers, American families and businesses for too long and we have had no recourse,” Kalman said. “The public option is one sure-fire way to stop the industry abuses, reduce costs and give Americans affordable health insurance choices.”