Today, in testimony before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Forum on Health Insurance Reform, health care whistle blower Wendell Potter reminded Congress why a public option is essential to reform. If Congress fails to create “a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers, the bill it sends to the President might as well be called, ‘The Insurance Industry Profit Protection And Enhancement Act,'” Potter said.
At the end of the hearing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) agreed with Potter. “You cited a public option as one way for it to reach its achieve its goal,” she told him. “We will be passing the ‘Private Insurance Profit Perpetuation Act.’ We have no intention of doing that”:
Mr. Potter, you said it well when you said if we do a plan that doesn’t really achieve its goal, and you cited a public option as one way for it to reach its goal, we will be passing the ‘Private Insurance Profit Perpetuation Act.’ We have no intention of doing that. We want the private sector to thrive — we don’t want our members to go into an exchange where they only have one choice, where there’s sole sourcing. But that the public option provides that competition.
Potter has harshly criticized Sen. Max Buacus’ (D-MT) proposed framework for reform, calling the bill “an absolute gift to the industry.”
“A public option must be created to provide true choice to consumers or reform will fail to fix the root of the severe problems that have been caused in large part by the greedy demands of Wall Street. By creating a strong public option and restricting the insurance companies’ ability to enrich executives and investors at the expense of taxpayers and consumers, HR 3200 [the House health bill] will truly benefit Americans,” Potter said in his opening statement. “The Baucus plan, on the other hand, would create a government subsidized monopoly for the purchase of bare bones high deductible policies that would truly benefit big insurance. In other words, insurers would win, your constituents would lose.”