MinnPost: Are you in favor of the inclusion of the "public option"?
Klobuchar: I am open to a public option, but I am waiting to see what it looks like in the Senate bill.
Klobuchar: I believe we can incentivize more affordable health care in general by better regulating insurance and creating meaningful competition for health care services. However, some of the options before Congress are tied to Medicare reimbursement rates. Before we even consider expanding Medicare, or another program based on its rates, we must reform our Medicare payment system so that it rewards value, not volume, and doesn't disadvantage states like Minnesota that provide high-quality care in an efficient way.
I would prefer a public option that would be a competitive option that would allow people to buy into a Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which is a series of private plans…
I have long advocated for opening up the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program that uses the purchasing power of 8 million federal employees to lower premiums, while still providing access to quality care and preventative services. I am especially focused on making sure that any reforms make it easier for small businesses and the self-employed to afford health care.
MinnPost: You have faced some criticism about not coming down clearly for, or against, the public option. What is your rationale behind the position that you have taken?
Klobuchar: We have a lot to lose if it isn't done right… I think I am doing the right thing for the state by stepping back. The problem is if you say "yes" and don't see the changes you want, that doesn't get you very far. You would give up any power to change it.
In other words, Klobuchar is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the public option. It would be nice, doncha know, but somebody might, maybe, screw it up. She can't really commit until she sees what is delivered to her desk.
Health care was one of the largest issues of the last election. It affects every one of her constituents. 79% of people polled (including 61% of Republicans) want an option that doesn't involve trusting their health to the insurance companies. What about this issue calls for such a passive approach?
When we elect a senator, we expect her to lead. We expect her to use the power we've given her instead of waffling about giving it up down the road. We expect her to get out and tell the rest of the Senate what is important to her state, to lay out our broad concerns as well as the details that worry her. We expect her to stay involved in the process long enough to make sure decent legislation is written.
We don't expect her to sit back and hope someone delivers legislation to her liking. That isn't being a legislator. That's being a voter, and any of us can do it. We don't need her for that.