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Calling on Snowe to stand up for healthcare reform

Earlier this month, we told you about the key role Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is playing in the healthcare-reform debate.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media isn't telling you the whole story. Here's the lead in today's Associated Press piece on the subject:

"Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key figure in shaping federal health care legislation, says a government-run plan that would take effect if the private insurance market fails to deliver affordable coverage could bridge the partisan divide that threatens to derail President Obama's efforts to reform the system."

Where the article - and, crucially, Snowe - falls down is in failing to recognize that the private insurance market has already failed "to deliver affordable coverage." For years, Americans have been suffering under the thumb of private health-insurance companies, paying higher and higher premiums for fewer and fewer benefits. The numbers of the uninsured and underinsured have grown. Efforts to reform our broken, diseased, death-factory of a healthcare "system" have been stymied for years by private interests, who though split among several companies nevertheless operate as an exploitative monopoly, toying with Americans' very lives.

That's why President Obama has included a government-run plan in his reform package - expressly to compete with the private sector, which has failed so badly. His hope is that the government plan will force the private insurance companies to step up and actually provide service, or risk losing customers. It may one day become a single-payer system, if the private companies continue to wreck Americans' lives, as they have done for so long.

But Snowe says we should give them another chance to give us what they have failed to give us for decades. Snowe says that if they still don't take that opportunity, then we can put in a government plan. How many Americans will get sick and die between now and then? How many Americans will lose their health insurance, or become unable to afford it?

Let's be extremely clear: Healthcare is a basic human right. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Senator Snowe, it is time for you to stand up and force private insurance companies to provide what they advertise - actual healthcare for actual Americans. Give Americans a real option, and give the insurance companies real competition. That is their last chance. If they can't get it right in the face of real competition, in an actual marketplace, then they should indeed fail and fall by the wayside. If they can get their acts together and compete, more power to them. But it is long past time for one last chance.

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