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Area MoveOn volunteers send report to Conrad on public option

Local members of a liberal advocacy group submitted a report Friday to Sen.

MoveOn volunteers leave Conrad's office
Kyle Meerkins, left, and Katie Coleman, volunteers with MoveOn.org's Fargo-Moorhead Council, leave the office of Sen. Kent Conrad on Friday morning after delivering a report describing the benefits of a public option in health care reform. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Local members of a liberal advocacy group submitted a report Friday to Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., pushing the benefits of a public insurance option for health care reform.

The report, sponsored by MoveOn.org, states North Dakotans would benefit from a public option because it would extend coverage to 78 percent of uninsured residents and save the state's hospitals more than

$37 million a year.

"The facts clearly demonstrate that the public option is the key to lowering the skyrocketing health care costs and expanding access to affordable quality care," said Kyle Meerkins, one of three volunteers with MoveOn.org in Fargo-Moorhead who submitted the report Friday at Conrad's Fargo field office.

Conrad drew fire last week from MoveOn.org after twice voting against public option proposals presented in the Senate Finance Committee. As an alternative, Conrad supports regional health care cooperatives.

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According to a statement from his office, Conrad said he had not yet read MoveOn.org's report, but said he shares the same goal to improve health care for North Dakotans.

Conrad said the co-op option he's proposing would be a "true public interest option."

"The cooperatives would provide a not-for-profit insurance competitor to the current for-profit insurance companies dominating the industry today," Conrad said in the statement. "They would focus on getting the best value for consumers, rather than maximizing revenues or profits. They would provide an additional choice to help families, individuals and small businesses afford quality health care."

"At the end of the day, it is encouraging that we are all working towards that same goal," Conrad said of MoveOn.org's report.

MoveOn.org wants Conrad to change his direction and support a public option, Meerkins said.

"We're here today to challenge Sen. Conrad for his votes against real health care reform, to call on him to change direction and make it clear that MoveOn members right here in North Dakota will continue to be disappointed in Sen. Conrad as long as he continues to side with big insurance and opposes real health care reform," Meerkins said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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