Christine Stuart photo
U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5 (Christine Stuart photo)

More than 130 elected state lawmakers and officials signed a letter Monday urging US President Barack Obama and Connecticut’s Congressional delegation to pass comprehensive health care reform in 2009.

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy said he would deliver the letter, which is an exact copy of the one authored by the Progressive States Network, to the president and lawmakers. However, he was certain the over-sized version of the letter on display for Monday’s press conference would not fit in the plane’s overhead compartment.

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, will travel to the White House on Wednesday to meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House “Health Czar” Nancy-Ann DeParle. Donovan will also attend a press conference with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA and a delegation of Progressive States Network members.

“Here in Connecticut we have a lot to be proud of in terms of what we’ve done on health care,” Donovan said referring to recent passage of two health care bills which are making their way to the governor’s desk.

“We have been working hard on health care reform, but one state can’t do it alone,” Donovan said. “We need the help of the federal government.”

“The stars are aligned this year, both in Washington and in Connecticut, to deliver before the year is over affordable health care to every single resident of the United States of America,” Murphy said.

“This is a moral imperative getting health care to everybody in this country, but it’s also an economic imperative,” Murphy said.

He said even though the government isn’t going to come in and take over the health care system, “it has a very important role to play in pooling the purchasing power of state employees, federal employees, Medicare, and Medicaid beneficiaries to try and get the best costs for consumers.”

While a public option has been discussed at the federal level the 615 page Senate bill failed to describe how the public option would work.

“The idea behind the public option is to offer consumers and businesses a choice and to provide some real competition to private insurers,” Murphy said. “If we’re talking about potentially helping to subsidize health insurance for thousands, if not millions of Americans, then we want to make sure that the private health insurers have some real competition from a plan that has no profit motivation, no reason to prop up premiums to pay big CEO salaries, only has at its basis a fundamental obligation to provide care.”

He said the public option would have to meet the same standards as private insurance companies. But “we think in order to really keep the private plans honest, they need a nonprofit, publicly sponsored health plan to compete,” Murphy said.

But would a public option properly reimburse doctors for services performed?

“I believe the public option would have to pay above Medicare rates,” Murphy said.

Murphy also said the House will unveil its federal health care legislation later this week or next week and anticipates it will outline what is meant by a public health care option.