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Rockefeller bill calls for public option, insurance quality ratings

CU supports effort to introduce competition to bring down costs, improve quality of coverage

June 17, 2009

The Honorable Jay Rockefeller
United States Senate

Dear Senator Rockefeller:

Congratulations on your introduction of the “Consumers Healthcare Act of 2009.” Consumers Union, the independent, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, strongly supports your effort to allow all Americans the option of a public health insurance plan. We also thank you for the groundbreaking proposal to create “America’s Health Insurance Trust,”—a system to at long last give consumers detailed quality ratings on health insurance plans.

We believe the competition provided by a public plan option can save money while improving the quality of all insurance products in the marketplace. As this year’s Medicare Payment Advisory Commission report makes clear, the private insurers are woefully failing to control costs. The 2009 Medicare Trustees Report, on the other hand, notes that over the long term, Medicare has inflated somewhat less than the private sector in providing a comparable package of services. We need the cost restraint that competition with a public plan can provide. At the same time, our readers tell us that all too often private insurers are offering inadequate, sometimes deceptive, and frequently poor quality coverage. Your bill proposes a public plan option dedicated to the highest quality of service to its owners—the American public. Your proposal will ensure that more insurers compete on quality to match the public plan option’s dedication to service.

The new proposal for “America’s Health Insurance Trust,” which will give consumers hard data on the quality of insurance options, is a key to empowering the public and helping us make intelligent insurance choices. Rating insurers from A to F will give buyers the opportunity to avoid the ‘junk’ insurers and those who profit by hassling, questioning, and delaying the payment of every claim.

Thank you again for your continued leadership on these key consumer issues. We wish you great success in the legislative effort to finally ensure that every American has access to affordable, quality, dependable healthcare.


DeAnn Friedholm
Director, Health Reform Campaign