Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wyoming Democrats support public option

The Wyoming Democratic Party is asking state residents to support the public option in health care reform. You can go to the WyoDems' web site and print out a petition calling for the public option. Get ten supporters to sign on and send it back to the WyoDems so they can send it to D.C. along with hundreds (we hope) of other signed petitions. Find the printable petition at

This is especially important for Wyoming because we have one U.S. senator (Enzi) who was one of the "Gang of Six" on the Senate Finance Committee who spent most of the past year obstructing real reform. No surprise that Sen. Enzi has received a total of $781,419 during his career from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries (source: American Spectator).

Let's put that in perspective. The Cheyenne Community Clinic just announced that it will close by the end of the year. The Clinic, referred to by director Murray Lou Rex as "the safety net to the safety net," receives its $190,000 budget from United Way, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County. The United Way has decided to end its support. This is a crushing blow, as it supplies half the clinic's budget.

Imagine that Sen. Enzi used his ill-gotten gains from Big Insurers and Big Pharma to fill the gap left by United Way. That would keep the clinic running eight more years, allowing its volunteer docs, pharmacists and nurses to rack up another 16,000 "patient encounters."

Our other U.S. senator, John Barrasso, is a newbie so we cut him a bit of slack. However, he's one of the handful of physicians in the U.S. Congress, so we do have expect a little more empathy and sensitivity from him. Alas, we haven't seen it when it comes to health care votes. He voted against the Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly known as CHIP or SCHIP. Wyoming has 6,314 children enrolled in CHIP, according to Nov. 2008 statistics released by the Children's Defense Fund. Imagine voting to cut off funding for 6,314 children? I can't.

And what about freshman U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis? She tows the Republican Party line and votes against anything promoted by Pres. Obama. She also is the 15th-wealthiest member of Congress. We pay for her health insurance. We also pay for Sen. Enzi's Medicare coverage.

So Wyoming Democrats are urging their senators and lone rep to dig deep for some thoughtfulness and empathy when it comes time to vote for real health care reform.

Here's the wording from the WyoDems' petition:

The heath care system of the United States is in crisis. Almost fifty million Americans completely lack health insurance, including more than 70,000 people in Wyoming. Tens of millions more lack adequate coverage, and the millions who do have private coverage are paying increasingly unaffordable premiums, resulting in inadequate access to care and premature death, illness, or financial ruin for millions of Americans.

Nationwide, public polls show that a majority of Americans want health care reform to offer the choice of a robust public option similar to Medicare in order to, in the words of President Obama, “keep the insurance companies honest.” At the same time, co-ops or so-called “triggers” are inadequate in and of themselves to address the health care crisis. We need a public option to create significant competition for the medical insurance industry and give insurance companies an incentive to control costs.

Republicans and their allies in the health insurance industry have organized and funded groups of extremists to disrupt efforts on the part of the Democratic majority and administration to reasonably discuss the issue with the American people. These supporters of the status quo have demonstrated an utter unwillingness to compromise in any way to pass meaningful health care reform.

For these reasons, we the undersigned strongly support health care reform that includes a robust public option. We hereby call on Sen. Mike Enzi, Sen. John Barrasso, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis to vote for only such health care reform proposals as contain a robust public option at all stages of the legislative process, including conference and reconciliation.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Go Wyoming! The public option is the best way forward! We can anchor this solution in a structure that will save money for everyone; citizens & the gov't. One health management firm in Ohio is already making it work: