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Letter to the Senate Finance Committee Health Insurance Reform Supporting a Public Option

September 29, 2009

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to thank you for your continued leadership on health care reform. We are also writing to ask for your full support of the inclusion of a Public Health Insurance Plan option, available on day one, during the Senate Finance Committee markup this week and throughout the health care reform legislative process. 
NEA members know that quality health care coverage is a crucial ingredient for successful public schools, and we remain committed to fighting for health care reform that leads to comprehensive, quality, affordable health benefits for all.  We believe that meaningful health care reform begins with a Public Health Insurance Plan option established by the federal government.  A Public Health Insurance Plan option should be available to individuals and employers around the country, offered alongside private health insurance plans, and competitive on the basis of cost and quality.  A Public Health Insurance Plan option will result in more transparency and accountability for the private health insurance industry. 

Health plan cooperatives are not an alternative to a Public Health Insurance Plan option. The cost and time necessary to set up a cooperative, establish a network of providers, hire a plan administrator to adjudicate the claims, market the plan, and many other factors, would eat up valuable time and result in further delay of providing coverage to the uninsured.  Many fledgling cooperatives have failed over the past few years as they were unable to obtain provider interest and/or negotiate provider reimbursement rates that could come compete with the long entrenched private insurance carriers.

In addition, the inclusion of a so-called trigger mechanism is essentially a stalling tactic for setting up a Public Health Insurance Plan option and results in the further delay of coverage for the 46 million uninsured Americans.

Thank you for your consideration of our views on these important issues.  We look forward to discussing this further with you and your staff.


Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy