WASHINGTON, D.C — President Barack Obama on Tuesday repeated his support for a government-supported health insurance plan, acknowledging that such a plan would sharply reduce Republican support for overhauling the nation’s health care system, according to the New York Times.
Senators who met with Obama at the White House Tuesday also said he told them to send him a health care reform bill to sign by October. “He said we need to be unflinching and unflagging,” Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, told the Times.
The president’s words of support for a public insurance plan were comforting to senators like Ohio’s Sherrod Brown. “The sentiment in the room, with the president and the rest of us, was that a public plan option will keep the insurance industry honest, will give people more choices in their health care and can save significant amounts of money,” the Avon, Ohio, Democrat told the Times.
Last week, Brown told a City Club of Cleveland audience that a public insurance plan doesn’t mean doing away with private insurance, but would give private insurers some competition in places where there now is little.
Meanwhile, the insurance industry says it has wholeheartedly embraced health care reform, promising Congress that it will make it easier for individuals to buy their own health insurance, according to another New York Times story.
But so far, the insurance industry has not reached out to small businesses, which by some estimates employ half of the nation’s uninsured. Some policy and industry analysts say that unless insurers are willing to give some ground to small businesses, too, then much of what’s wrong with the nation’s health care system will remain broken, the Times said.
The Center for American Progress estimates that the nationÂ would lose (pdf) between $124 billion and $248 billion in productivity this year if it doesn’t do somethingÂ to coverÂ the uninsured. In Ohio, that means between $3.6 billion and $7.1 billion in lost productivity this year.
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[Graphic from America's Health Insurance Plans]