Congressional Progressive Caucus Lays Out Criteria for Public Option

Vow to oppose healthcare legislation that does not provide robust and affordable public plan

Washington, DC—Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) united behind a set of principles that define a public option to be included in a final healthcare reform bill in the event that a single payer plan is not enacted.  The principles call for a guarantee of coverage, high-quality and accessible healthcare, and lower costs – regardless of income, health status, race, employment, or gender.  The principles also state the CPC’s strong opposition to any conditions or triggers that might limit the availability of the public plan.

“Americans deserve health care that favors patients over the health insurance companies,” said CPC Co-Chair, Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ).  “They were given decades to control costs, improve quality and increase access but they have failed.  At a minimum, we need to give them real competition in the form of a robust public plan that puts patients first.”

“Any legislation passed by Congress must include a robust and affordable public option that is available to every American, and that provides coverage on par with any plan put forth by private insurers,” said CPC Co-Chair, Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).  “This is not a moment to act cautiously, or to hide behind hollow buzz words or skeleton programs.  The Congress must act boldly to develop a health care bill that the public will be proud of, and which will lay the foundation for our nation’s future economic growth.  A competitive public option must be at the heart of this proposal.”

The CPC sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlining the public option principles.  The drafting of the public option principles were led by the CPC health taskforce co-chairs Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). 

Last month the CPC met with House Leadership and recommended U.S. Representatives Dr. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) to represent the CPC and help draft comprehensive health care reform legislation.  The principles sent today will be the outline on which they will negotiate on behalf of the CPC for the most robust public plan.

On April 2, the CPC sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating that a majority of its members would oppose any legislation that did not include a public option.  That was followed up on April 24th with an unprecedented letter to President Obama and the Democratic Leadership of the House and Senate from the leaders of four prominent caucuses consisting of 120 Members– the CPC plus the Black Caucus (CBC), the Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) stressing that the support for health care reform must require a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.

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CPC Public Health Plan Principles (01/24/1107:03 PMET )