Op-ed by CPC Co-CHair, Rep. Raul Grijalva: Single-payer plan would fix the system (AZ Daily Star)

Grijalva: Single-payer plan would fix the system
By U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

The need to pass health-care reform is now. For six decades, we have endured a broken system. We have tolerated egregious flaws and injustices, allowing insurance companies to dictate what constitutes the norm. For too long, we have dismissed the insurance companies' failings as "business-as-usual," as if we didn't deserve to demand something better.

Enough is enough. I will not support the current system any longer. As a member of Congress, I have an obligation to help make our nation healthier, to ensure every American citizen has access to health care that is affordable and of the highest quality.

The proposed health-care reform legislation will provide health and peace of mind to all Americans and produce a system that prioritizes patients and families. We need to pass this legislation if we ever hope to change our insurance-company-ruled-system, which puts a miserable distance between doctors and patients.

A critical component of any health-care reform bill is the inclusion of a strong public option. A public option will ensure affordability, it will expand coverage to all citizens, it will stop the madness of denials based on pre-existing conditions and it will be critical in addressing health disparities.

The recent discussion that a public option would be implemented only if the private insurance industry fails to meet specified conditions is an insult to the American people. Why? Because these conditions would be set by the private insurance industry and we would be fooling ourselves to think that the insurance companies would do anything other than to keep the status quo.

The insurance companies were given more than half a century to figure out how to control costs, improve quality and increase access to health care. They failed.

The introduction of a public option will expand choice in the health-insurance market. Families that like their private health-care plans can keep them. And every American, regardless of their plan, will see their costs reduced because of the increase in choice and competition. This gets to the heart of costs: It reduces premiums, co-pays and the overall financial burden that comes from the way we currently provide health care.

Standing idle and doing nothing to reform our existing, costly and ineffective system amounts to fiscal irresponsibility. American citizens deserve health care that favors patients over the health-insurance industry. This can be achieved by creating a strong public option and I won't vote for a bill with anything less.