WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) offered the following statement on the public option amendments offered at the Senate Finance Committee markup today:
“Throughout this health care debate, I have stood firm on three principles that the final bill must address: We must keep insurance companies’ feet to the fire to provide affordable coverage through robust competition; improve the quality of care; and rein in the growth of healthcare costs in America.
“While not perfect, I supported Sen. Schumer's ‘level playing field public option’ amendment because I believe it – or something similar to it – could help drive down insurance costs for consumers in a way that doesn’t unfairly disadvantage insurance companies. Unlike other so-called public option proposals, Sen. Schumer’s amendment seeks to ensure that any public health insurance plan remain independent, self-financed and self-sustaining. No one, not consumers nor providers, would be required to participate, and the government would not be able to negotiate prices based on Medicare rates, thereby better ensuring equal competition in the marketplace. Instead, the public option would compete with other insurance plans in a way that would offer greater choice, at less cost, for the consumer.
“I did not support Sen. Rockefeller’s amendment largely because it would give the government an unfair advantage in the marketplace by allowing it to negotiate prices initially based on Medicare. That would stifle competition, not increase it, and the end result, I believe, would not be good for the consumer.
“Although Sen. Schumer’s amendment failed, this will not be the last we’ve heard on this issue.
“As we prepare to bring the healthcare bill to the floor of the Senate, we will work to find a compromise that will increase competition in the marketplace where competition may not exist in some states and help bring down the ever-increasing cost of health insurance for Americans.”