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Wyden, Merkley Promise A Floor Fight To Open Public Option

Looks like we're going to see a push to open the public option. Get on the phones and let your congress creatures know you're behind it: Sen. Ron W

Looks like we're going to see a push to open the public option. Get on the phones and let your congress creatures know you're behind it:

Sen. Ron Wyden has doubts about the scope of the public option plan announced Monday.

"I agree with Senator Reid that health reform should give Americans more options. Now, I want to work with him to ensure that all Americans can choose those options," Wyden said. "The bottom line is that the public option can’t really hold private insurers accountable if it is only competing for 10 percent of the insurance market, because private insurance companies aren’t going to change their business practices if 90 percent of their customers can’t take their business elsewhere.

"Real reform means empowering Americans to choose insurance that works well for them and their family, while rejecting plans that don’t. Including a public option is a step in the right direction, now let’s remove the firewalls in this bill that prevent Americans from choosing it," Wyden said in a statement.

[...][Jeff] Merkley, for example, said he would be unhappy if more Americans weren't able to select the so-called public option. As a member of one of the committees that wrote a health care bill, Merkley actively supported a government-option as the best way to maintain costs and provide greater choice. Merkley said in an interview Monday that he would press for any public option to be broadly available along the lines of an amendment he successfully offered in July when the bill was in committee.

Merkley's amendment is designed to give small businesses access to newly created health insurance exchanges that, in theory, breed competition by pooling the number of customers in a specific region. Merkley estimated that his amendment would allow nearly 25,000 more businesses – employing 485,000 workers – to enter the exchanges and 32 million people nationwide.

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That amendment would increase the size of small businesses eligible for enter the national exchange that includes a public options. He also supports giving states the right expand the size of eligible businesses even more.

"What sense does it make to keep companies from going into the exchange?" he said.

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