Washington, D.C. — Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and other U.S senators today expressing their profound disappointment that consumer advocates had been left out of closed negotiations orchestrated by the Massachusetts senator to forumulate health care reform legislation. The nonprofit and nonpartisan group noted two recent national polls showing the public overwhelming opposed the central premise of the Senate’s so-called “workhorse” group, mandatory purchases of private heath insurance, and supported a different path — giving Americans of any age access to Medicare.
“An enterprise as great and critical as guaranteeing real health care for all Americans requires a public process and public discussion,” Consumer Watchdog’s leaders wrote. “Back room negotiations with the medical insurance complex are doomed to ignore the will and sentiments of the American people.”
A national poll in December 2008 conducted by the consumer products marketing survey CARAVAN for Consumer Watchdog found that only 16% of U.S. voters support, and 53% oppose, requiring every American to provide proof of private health insurance or face tax penalties or other fines. Read about the poll here.
A second opinion research poll in January 2009 found that, by contrast, 65% support giving every American of any age the option of joining Medicare, and 60% are willing to pay more in payroll deductions for this option. Read about the poll here.
The letter makes three critical recommendations for reform:
* Provide a public alternative to the private market. The most efficient and cost-effective way to provide that alternative is to open Medicare to all Americans.
* Any federal health care reforms should not preempt stronger state laws and regulations; they should follow the model of existing federal law, which promotes a state-federal partnership.
* Reject proposals to require consumers to purchase insurance from private companies, as President Obama did during his campaign. The individual mandate is highly unfair and unaffordable in practice.
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Consumer Watchdog is a nationally recognized consumer advocacy group. Visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.