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Bean open to government-run insurance option
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff

U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean


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Published: 8/20/2009 12:12 AM

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U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean told suburbanites Wednesday she isn't certain if she will vote for President Barack Obama's health care plan because "the devil is in the details."

"The reality is there isn't yet a bill to support or not support," the Barrington Democrat told callers on a teleconference focusing on health care. "There are many bills."

But Bean, who has been protested by both sides of the health care debate, made clear she is open to voting for a government-run insurance option if it would allow private insurance to continue to thrive.

"I certainly support the president's goals to extend coverage to those who don't have access to affordable coverage while preserving access to those who do," she said.

Bean's teleconference Wednesday night drew about 4,400 listeners who received a phone call and then could listen in. About a half dozen questions were taken from the pool of callers. She also had a second teleconference Wednesday night.

Bean was asked about particulars of the health care plan and broadly about the raging debate that has sparked fiery town hall meetings. She rejected the contention by some opponents that Democrats where trying to establish a government-run health care industry like Canada.

"Anyone who is saying that to you is being disingenuous," she told one caller "That is not going to happen."

She also tried to dispel accusations that the legislation would push senior citizens to give up treatment or refuse to cover lifesaving care under so-called "death panels."

"Sadly a lot of things have become... very ideological," she said to one caller who asked about the partisan divide. "And I think that is unfortunate. I think it is sometimes easier to put things in black and white boxes."

Bean stressed how legislation being considered would prevent insurance companies from not covering pre-existing conditions and allow small businesses and individuals access to pool coverage to reduce premiums.

Bean has not had a public town hall meeting on health care since the congressional break began earlier this month. But her spokesman said she has meet continually with different groups on the issue in the 8th District, which stretches from northern Cook County to northern Lake County and eastern McHenry County.

Like other suburban lawmakers across the country, including U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Batavia, Bean is a Democrat whose support is expected to be crucial for the passage of health care legislation once it comes to a full vote in the House.