Sherrod Brown explains passion for health care, public option

News

Sherrod Brown explains passion for health care, public option

Sandusky Register – Ever since he won his first race for the U.S. House in 1992, Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, has refused to use the federal government's health insurance program.

Instead, as a protest against the fact many American's don't have health insurance, he's obtained it elsewhere.

Few lawmakers in Congress have been as active in the current debate in the Senate over health reform. He has spent much of his time in recent weeks pushing for the "public option" — a government-run health insurance plan that would be available to anyone not currently covered by health insurance.

His interest in the issue emerges in all kinds of ways. When a new book on health care reform, T. R. Reid's "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care," was mentioned, Brown said he already had read it.

He recently agreed to answer questions about the issue.

Q. Is it true that you've refused to accept government health insurance for yourself, even though you qualify, because you're waiting for reform to happen first?

A. Yes, I made a promise in my 1992 campaign that I would pay my own health insurance until everybody in Ohio, everybody in my district in those days, had decent health insurance. For 17 years, since I've been in Congress in '92, I've paid my own … Now I'm on my wife's plan the last five years and I pay a good bit extra to be on that plan. I'm not complaining. I made that commitment because I think that Congress needs to get more serious than it has over the years.

Q. Why is the public option so important to you? Why are you fighting so hard to get that?

A. In too many places, there is little competition. Private insurance companies, two or three companies in many cases, have cornered the market. And as a result, the quality is lower and the cost is higher. Too many insurance companies have canceled people's insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or have discriminated based on disability or gender or geography. The public option will provide competition for private insurance. It will make private insurance companies more honest, because they can't game the system.

It will provide competition where there isn't much competition in the insurance industry. It will bring prices down, because of competition.

Read the whole article »