Sen. Lincoln Hammered With Questions On Public Option During Online Chat

October 19, 2009 6:38 a.m.

Public option supporters bombarded Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) with questions last night about why she doesn’t back a public option in the health care fight, with one constituent fretting about losing her seat to a Republican.

“We are terribly disappointed that you have caved in to the insurance industry and failed to support the public option for health care. It may very well affect our vote for you in the next election,” Ray and Judy told her on the chat, which is posted online.

“Unfortunately the insurance companies opposed the bill I supported in the Finance Committee. There are many ways to provide greater options and choices to individuals, including non-profits, a state plan, and a co-op plan,” Lincoln wrote back.

But that wasn’t the last word. Lincoln got six more questions along the same lines.Stan Wilson asked, “Again why are you opposed to a public option or everyone having the same health care options that you have?”

“That is exactly what I am for,” Lincoln argued. “I am for expanding health care options for everyone just like the options that I and 8 million other federal employees have. Today the state of Arkansas has one or two options for customers. My goal is to expand that to dozens of choices.”

“Nathan – Rogers” asked, “As long as hospitals and insurance company executive are paid based on the profits their companies make, how can we expect the focus to be on the patient without a public option?”

“We’re changing that by changing the rules for insurance,” was her response.

Next up was Jesse Barr of Winslow, AR, who blared: “Competition is the ONLY way to make the insurance corporations change their behavior!”

“I share your views,” Lincoln said. “Providing competition and choice is the best way to make insurance companies change their behavior and be more competitive. It is also the best way to provide more affordable choices for people. Changing the rules is the first step towards forcing the competition.”

Politics was on the chat agenda as well, since Lincoln is up for reelection next fall.

“Senator, please get this right – don’t give our seat to the Republicans,” pleaded “Hershey from Fayetteville.”

“My first concern is about how health insurance reform will affect the people of Arkansas. I know that I will be accountable at the next election, but this issue is not about politics. It’s about people, it’s about our country, and it’s about our state,” the senator replied.

“Doc” from Fayetteville told Lincoln she seems “more inclined to keep insurance companies in the health care business than you are to see people provided health care.”

Lincoln’s response: “We already have an employer based, private health care system. We are trying to make it more affordable for everyone. We can’t just throw it all out and start over, but we can make it more efficient and more affordable for everyone.”

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