Interview w/ Rep. Grijalva: No Public Option, No Vote for Health Reform

AZ Congressman: No Public Option, No Vote for Health Reform
August 5, 2009

TUCSON, Ariz. - Unless the final federal health care reform agreement includes an optional government-run plan, southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva says he'll be voting 'no' on the package. He makes that pledge in a letter to the U.S. House leadership signed by at least 60 other members of Congress. Grijalva believes a public component is essential to controlling costs by keeping insurance companies honest.

"If we do not have a really strong public option in there, that is competitive with private insurance companies, then you're basically giving another trillion dollars to the same situation that we have now. Who's going to hold private insurance companies accountable?"

Critics say a public option will inevitably lead to lower quality healthcare at higher costs, because of government inefficiencies. Grijalva disagrees, pointing out that government-run health plans have already proven themselves, time and again.

"Veterans Administration, that's a federal healthcare provider. Tri-Care, Medicaid, S-Chip - federal. Medicare, federal. There's over 88-million people, right now, essentially on a federal program in this country."

The fate of a government insurance option in the overall reform plan will depend on the leadership of President Obama, he adds.

"As they try to reconcile the three bills in the House and the two different bills in the Senate, we'll see what it looks like. But I think, if the President holds to his strong, robust public option, that will end up being the cornerstone of this whole reform package."

The House began its summer break without voting on healthcare reform; a Senate vote has been postponed until September.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ