The Only Alternative is the Status Quo

Senator Rockefeller summed up the state of health reform when he said, “There is no alternative to the public health insurance option, the only alternative is the status quo.”

But, we know that the status quo and its lackeys in Congress are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that they can continue to profit off of the broken health care system.

In the House, the latest CBO score on the public health insurance plan seems to be the final nail in the coffin of the Blue Dog Amendment that sought to weaken it.

And Speaker Pelosi, who continues to show great leadership, was optimistic emerging from a Thursday caucus meeting saying, “I feel very confident. We have plenty of good options — we have plenty of good opportunities here. And so one thing I know for sure, at end of the day, a public option is the strongest lever that we can use to get the best possible outcome for America’s working families.”

It looks like the House is going to pass a strong bill and will not cave to the corporate insurance interests by removing or watering down the public health insurance plan. This puts the House in line with the will of the majority of the country.

Despite media-driven and insurance company-funded turmoil during the August recess, a CBS/New York Times Poll released today reports that 65 percent of respondents favored a public health insurance plan, an increase of 5 percentage points from the last poll conducted in August 2009.

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Lawmakers should pay particular attention to the response that shows support for health reform plummets if the public health insurance plan is removed.

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This brings us back to the Senate where the Finance Committee is moving through a painful markup process. The Baucus Bill does not include a public health insurance plan, but there are several amendments offered by Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Schumer that would create one.

McJoan reported on a Thursday call with Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Schumer,

Both members refuse to consider the possibility that there won’t be a public option in the final legislation, even in light of the reality of the challenge that the Senate Finance committee is “more conservative than the Senate caucus as a whole, and the Senate is more conservative than the House.” The fight would “go down to the wire,” but nonetheless, Rockefeller asserted that, “I think we have a good shot of getting it out of the Finance Committee.” Both reiterated the necessity of having the public option to create competition and bring the costs down.

The latest news is that voting on the Rockefeller and Schumer amendments to include a public health insurance plan will take place on Tuesday. We need to make our voices heard so that members of the committee know we are not going to let them buck the will of the people and pass a bailout for the insurance companies.

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Senator Schumer said, “This is the first in the series of important votes on the public health insurance option; if we keep building up support we have a good chance of winning. My prediction is that at the end of the day we will have a good form of the public option in the final bill.”

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