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Article: House Progressives to Obama: No Public Option, No Support (Daily Kos)


House Progressives to Obama: No Public Option, No Support
by mcjoan

Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 04:30:04 PM PDT

Greg Sargent has a letter just sent to President Obama from the co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus stating that they will not back down on their pledge to support reform with a strong public option, or nothing, and demanding a meeting.

From the letter:

    We look forward to meeting with you regarding retaining a robust public option in any final health reform bill and request that that meeting take place as soon as possible.

    Public opinion polls continue to show that a majority of Americans want the choice of a robust public plan and we stand in solidarity with them. We continue to support the robust public option that was reported out of the Committees on Ways and Means and Education and Labor and will not vote for a weakened bill on the House Floor or returning from a Conference with the Senate.

    Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates--not negotiated rates--is unacceptable. A plan with negotiated rates would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of providing choice and competition to keep rates down. The public plan with set rates saves $75 billion, which could be lost if rates are negotiated with providers. Further, this public option must be available immediately and must not be contingent upon any trigger.

    Mr. President, the need for reform is urgent. Every day, 14,000 Americans lose their health care coverage. We must have health care reform that will effectively bring down costs and significantly expand access. A health reform bill without a robust public option will not achieve the health reform this country so desperately needs. We cannot vote for anything less.

This reiterates the claim the Progressive Block made first in their letter to Speaker Pelosi back in July and again in a letter to HHS Sec. Sebelius a few weeks ago.

The Progressive Block has staked a lot on this fight, and there's a great deal at stake for all progressives in this. If Democrats, and particularly Obama, get rolled on this one, there's little hope for any key policy initiative by this White House making it through unscathed. How Obama responds to the Progressive Block, and how the Progressive Block reacts, could determine the fate of every other major effort this administration attempts.

Update: There's ongoing discussion in sluggahjells diary. There's also this from Speaker Pelosi:

    "Any real change requires the inclusion of a strong public option to promote competition and bring down costs. If a vigorous public option is not included, it would be a major victory for the health insurance industry.

    "President Obama has said that a public option will keep the insurance companies honest. If someone has a better idea for promoting competition and reducing health care costs, they should put it on the table. But for the past month, opponents of health insurance reform have demonstrated that they are afraid of the facts. They have only offered distortions, distractions and misrepresentations to try to kill this historic legislation.

    "A bill without a strong public option will not pass the House. Eliminating the public option would be a major victory for the insurance companies who have rationed care, increased premiums and denied coverage."