The votes today by the Senate Finance Committee to reject a public option as part of health care reform go against public opinion and against the best interests of Americans. 47 million of our fellow citizens go without health insurance and millions more have inadequate coverage. The Baucus proposal under consideration by the Finance Committee does not go far enough to earn the title of “reform.” Senator Ron Wyden is to be congratulated for his committee votes today in favor of the public option but I urge both Senator Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley, my home state senators, to vote against any proposal on the senate floor that does not include a strong public option. The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has already adopted a superior reform bill that includes a public option. Proposals under consideration by the U.S. House also include a public option.
The United Church of Christ, with over 1.1 million Americans across the United States, including Oregon, has called for reform that includes:
- Coverage for all people
- Access regardless of ability to pay
- A full set of comprehensive benefits
- A choice of physicians and other providers
- Elimination of racial and ethnic and other health care disparities
- Waiver of pre-existing condition exclusions without age limits
- A robust public health insurance option
In the Christian tradition, we are called to heal the sick and is with that spirit that I join my voice to the overwhelming chorus of religious voices calling out for reform. America needs universal health care reform with a strong public option to move us closer to being a peaceable community.