Democrats Hit Back on GOP Health Plan

Posted May 20, 2009 at 1:45pm

Responding swiftly to an alternative Republican health care plan unveiled earlier Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the group Health Care for America Now joined forces this afternoon to push for passage of a public plan as a part of health care reform.Within hours of Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and others unveiling a comprehensive health care package built around private health insurance, Schumer and Health Care for America Now released a report charging that insurance companies have a monopoly over the market. They also argued that creating a government-run health insurance entity was the only way to remedy the situation.“It’s all the evidence we need that consumers must have a public option,— Schumer, the Senate Democratic Conference vice chairman, said during a conference call. “We must make increasing competition our top priority.—Schumer also criticized a separate proposal under discussion by moderate Senate Republicans that would create a “trigger— for a public plan. That proposal would allow for government-run insurance if the cost of private coverage climbs to a particular level.Schumer this month proposed a blueprint for a public plan that would create an entity that operates similarly to private insurance, requiring that it be competitively priced and maintain a reserve fund. The critics of a public plan — mostly Republicans — worry that it would severely undercut private insurers and drive consumers to the government option.Richard Kirsch, the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, called on the White House to launch a Justice Department investigation into the health insurance industry, arguing that it is operating as a de facto monopoly.