PI Original Josh Kalven Tuesday June 16th, 2009, 4:45pm

Roskam Claims That Public Option Is Not Going To Be Optional

This morning, GOP Rep. Peter Roskam appeared on WIND's Big John & Cisco In The Morning to discuss the ongoing debate over health care reform. Echoing his comments on C-SPAN last month, Roskam falsely suggested that if we institute a "public option," Americans ...

This morning, GOP Rep. Peter Roskam appeared on WIND's Big John & Cisco In The Morning to discuss the ongoing debate over health care reform. Echoing his comments on C-SPAN last month, Roskam falsely suggested that if we institute a "public option," Americans are ultimately going to be forced into government-sponsored health coverage.  Listen (transcript below):

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As we previously noted, the Lewin Group report found that 120 million people currently in the private market would voluntarily switch to the government-sponsored health insurance if it had the same payment rates as Medicare (and therefore lower premiums than the private insurers).  What Roskam ignores is that, if the government's coverage turns out to be problematic or inadequate, any number of those 120 million could always return to the private market.

Roskam's suggestion that the public option isn't optional is just the sort of "fear-mongering" Obama cited in his speech to the American Medical Association yesterday.  In the congressman's scenario, the private insurers are the little guys who will be unable to compete with the big, bad government.  What he ignores is that a) the private market is raking in huge profits while b) regularly denying coverage to those who need it most.  It's clear that they could stand a bit of competition and the "public option" is one way to make that happen.

ROSKAM: They talk about "public option."  Now "public" -- great word, right? I grew up in public schools and we go to the public pool and the public library and the public parks.  We care about what the public thinks. It's sort of light and fluffy and airy.  It's a nice word and I'm sure they tested the daylights out of it in terms of polls and focus groups.

And the other thing is the word "option."  We're a nation where we like choices and opportunity and we choose and all of that. But what the reality is is this is not going to be an option. This is going to roll into government-run -- government taking over health care for everybody. 

The Lewin Group did this study, Cisco, and they said: Look, if you do this, you're going to have 120 million Americans who are going to be out of private coverage and into the government plan.

And when the president says -- I mean, with all due respect -- I mean, when the President says, "If you like your doctor or you like your health care plan, you're going to be able to keep it" -- well, that's great.  But how about if it's not there anymore based on the policies of the federal goverment taking this whole thing over? 

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