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Thank you President Obama for your wise words on healthcare reform

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Yesterday, at President Obama’s news conference, a reporter asked whether adding a “public option” – an option that allows people to buy health insurance from the government instead of private insurers – would, as insurers claim, drive them out of business.

The president answered:

“Why would it drive private insurers out of business?… If they tell us they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.”

As a physician who has seen the ever-escalating costs of health insurance hurt my patients, I have to say, I agree with the president wholeheartedly.

A public option won’t drive insurance companies out of business. But lack of good, affordable healthcare options is forcing people to delay necessary medical care. That means that people are often sicker by the time they see a doctor. Sometimes, it means, by the time they see a doctor, it’s too late for us to help them. That’s a national tragedy.

We must turn the debate away from how to safeguard the insurers’ profits to how to safeguard our families.

I sincerely hope that the politicians and lobbyists will stop playing with people’s lives for the sake of the almighty dollar and, instead, think of the public good and pass real health reform.

– Yvonne Thornton, MD, MPH