Several healthcare groups push for public insurance option as part of healthcare reform

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Several healthcare groups, including the Service Employees International Union, kicked off a major campaign Monday to ensure inclusion of a public insurance option in healthcare reform.

The 11 largely progressive groups participating in the push plan to spend at least $82 million convincing lawmakers of the benefits of a public plan option. The money will be spent nationally, and includes funding for TV ads, lobbying efforts and grassroots organizing campaigns. A spokesman for one of the groups, Health Care for America Now, said that supporters of the public plan option are ready to fight against conservatives and pharmaceutical groups that oppose real healthcare reform. The SEIU is the largest single union representative of nursing home and healthcare workers in the U.S. Nursing homes are hoping that reform—no matter what form it takes—will take long-term care's needs into consideration.

Public plan proponents, however, might not have to try so hard to convince lawmakers. A recently released report from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee finds that a public plan option would level the playing field in the healthcare marketplace. Opponents of the option argue that plan would tip the markets and push private plans out of business. According to the HELP Committee report, a public plan would actually ensure "fiscal discipline and full accountability," reports the Bureau of National Affairs.