Following Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement of the Senate health care bill that will come to the floor, Oregon’s junior senator, Jeff Merkley, issued the following statement late this afternoon through his Web site:

Senator Jeff Merkley

It has been clear from the beginning of this debate that a public option is absolutely necessary to provide consumers with more choice, hold insurance companies accountable and keep costs down.

Senator Reid made the right decision to include this critical component in the merged legislation.  States may choose to opt-out based on their individual needs and the input of their citizens, but this provision will ensure that most Americans will have the choice between private insurance or a public plan that operates on a level playing field.  This is a reasonable compromise to this issue and takes us one step closer to action by the full Senate to finally pass health care reform and fix our broken system.

Senator Merkley’s comments echo what he has said in the past and reaffirm his commitment to real health care reform. Read the statement at the source.

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This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) held a press conference to announce the final version of the Senate health care bill that will now be sent to the Congressional Budget Office for an economic analysis.

Senator Reid’s announcement described the new bill as containing a public

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)

insurance option with an “opt out” provision, meaning states will have until 2014 to determine if they want to not participate in the national public plan.

He expressed that the reason for the public option with an “opt out” provision rather than the much-discussed “trigger” was that the public option is “fairer.” Senator Reid should be commended for his continued work on this issue, but now is the time to continue to tell our senators and representatives to support the strongest public option possible as the bills come to the floor of both houses of Congress.

Please consider calling or writing to our congressional delegation to ask them to stand up for small businesses by advocating for a strong public option to help control costs, increase competition and provide coverage for all.

Also, think about writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about why a public option for health insurance will help your employees and your bottom line. For talking points or assistance, please contact OSBC at 971-634-0010.

Watch the video of Senator Reid’s press conference here.

Oregon Small Business Council Action Team member Jim Houser of Hawthorne Auto Clinic was featured on Portland’s KOIN6 local news, discussing the burden health care costs place on small business owners in Oregon.

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