Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Former CA Insurance Commissioner Rep. Garamendi’s Reaction to President Obama’s Health Care Address

March 3, 2010
Press Release

Garamendi Likes Much in President’s Proposal,
Says "The Public Option is Dead Only if we Give Up the Fight"

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), California’s Insurance Commissioner for eight years and the former chair of the California State Senate Health Committee, today issued the following statement after President Barack Obama urged Congress to act swiftly to pass health care reform:

"I appreciate President Obama’s sense of urgency and agree with him that for the good of the American people, Congress must pass comprehensive health care reform this year. Every year we delay reform, 45,000 of our fellow citizens die because they do not have health insurance. Let’s not mince words: this is despicable and a blemish on our country’s good name.

"The President’s proposal has much to admire. Patients will continue to be able to choose their doctor. The American public will have the same consumer and affordability protections available to Congress. People with pre-existing conditions will finally have access to the peace of mind that comes with insurance. The deficit will be reduced by $100 billion over the next ten years, and 31 million more Americans will have access to health insurance because of this proposal.

"However, I remain deeply concerned that the President’s plan does not include a public option. As I said long before I entered Congress, so long as we allow the insurance companies to operate without the competition that comes from a public plan, our work is incomplete. The insurance industry exists to churn a profit, and they don’t care who gets hurt along the way. The American people deserve an opportunity to escape the clutches of the insurance industry.

"In the American system of government, the legislative branch is a co-equal to the executive branch. I continue to discuss with my colleagues in both chambers strategies that we can employ to resuscitate the public option. The President has said he supports the public option, and I will continue to do all I can to put a comprehensive health care reform bill with a public option on his desk. 

"To people in my district and across America, please understand that the public option is dead only if we give up the fight. By contacting your representatives, you still have the power to improve this legislation. 

"We are at the crossroads of history. We can either choose to expand health insurance coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans or let the insurance industry continue the status quo of pre-existing conditions, high premiums, and record corporate profits. There’s still time to pass a bill that does the right thing for the American people."