Sixteen U.S. senators have sent a letter to two key committee leaders urging them to include a public insurance option in comprehensive health reform.
The 15 Democrats and one Independent wrote in the letter that a public option would set the standard for quality, efficiency and cost and create incentives for healthy competition that will serve the interests of all Americans.
They wrote that excluding a public plan option in Medicares prescription drug benefit has resulted in higher costs to taxpayers while unfairly benefitting the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Signatories included Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The letter was sent to Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus, (D-Mont.), who chair committees crafting a healthcare reform bill.
Top Republican members of Congress oppose creating a public insurance plan option, saying it would eventually result in a single-payer healthcare system the government can ill-afford.