As Goes Maine...

This weekend's Bangor Daily News editorializes in favor of the public option and quotes the Center for Media and Democracy's Senior Fellow, Wendell Potter. Maine is a particularly crucial state in the health insurance reform debate because Senator Olympia Snowe is considered one of the only Republicans in the Senate who might possibly support reforms that are essential to a successful transformation of the nation's health care system.

As with many states, one of the biggest insurers in Maine, Anthem Blue Cross, recently sought permission from insurance regulators to increase rates for individuals a whopping 18%. The company claimed that was needed to maintain profits of 3%. Ultimately, the Maine insurance regulator settled on allowing a premium increase of 11%. Meanwhile, Maine's Attorney General noted that Anthem in Maine had paid out over $133 million in dividends to its parent company over the last few years!

Just as President Obama quoted Wendell's observation about Wall Street's "relentless" pursuit of profit to the detriment of American consumers, the Bangor Free Press noted:

The only way to counter this pressure from Wall Street is through a public option, according to Mr. Potter. A public option is the only way to provide the competition necessary to break the cycle of escalating premiums caused by the relentless drive for profits. If the legislation from Capitol Hill doesn’t address these problems, it isn’t reform.

Well said.