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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Speaks Out in Defense of Public Option

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) today responded to news from over the weekend that the public option - a government-run health insurance plan to expand consumer choice and compete with private health insurance companies - has all but been removed from ongoing health care reform negotiations:

“I am very troubled to hear that after months of negotiations – supposedly moving toward meaningful health care reform - the public option may in fact be off the table,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “As I have said before, particularly in conjunction with my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I will not be able to support a health care reform bill that does not guarantee the creation of a public option that will provide an alternative for the 47 million uninsured Americans and millions more who face rising premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

“The American people are strongly in favor of a public option as an alternative competitor to private insurance companies. How can we expect these insurance companies to expand access and make health care insurance more affordable without increased competition?

“The pressure on Congress from lobbyists who represent health care reform opponents is immense: recent reports suggest there may be as many as 6 lobbyists for each Member of Congress working to defeat meaningful health care reform. I cannot and will not sit by and quietly allow outside opposition to dismantle a program meant to provide the American people with an option so that they and their families can access quality, affordable health care.

“As part of National Health Center Week I recently attended several events in my district where nonprofit organizations such as RAM-LA and community clinics such as the South Bay Family Healthcare Center and the Venice Family Clinic offered free health screenings and other necessary medical treatments to thousands of Angelenos who simply cannot afford them. After seeing firsthand the overwhelming demand for these services - compounded by the 14,000 Americans losing their health insurance each day and by persistently high national unemployment and foreclosure rates- I have never been more convinced of the immediate need to reform our health insurance system.

“I strongly urge my colleagues involved in health care reform negotiations to join me in standing up in support of the public option and not caving in to insurance company opposition - we’ve played their game before and the losers are millions of working Americans and their families who either spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health insurance or who simply cannot afford health insurance in the first place.”

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