Pressure is building in the Senate among Dems, and Obama’s Health Secretary backed government-run insurance plan if Majority Leader Harry Reid signs on to it.
February 19, 2010 |
Editor’s Note: AlterNet’s Daniela Perdomo writes:
“Adding to the building pressure this week from his Senate colleagues who have openly demanded a public option in the health care reform bill, comes the news that President Obama would support a government-run insurance plan if Harry Reid signs onto it.
From Thursday’s Rachel Maddow interview with Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
Maddow: “The private insurance company writ large hasn’t done a great job. That’s why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?”
Sebelius: “Well, I think if it’s… Certainly. If it’s part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely.”
The onus is now really on the Majority Leader. As of Thursday, at least 18 senators had signed an open letter urging Reid to make the public option a necessary part of the final Senate bill.
The following is Sahil Kapur’s Raw Story article, edited to reflect recent developments (original here):
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has become the first member of the Democratic leadership to sign the public option letter, indicating its growing momentum.
In an email to supporters, reproduced by The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent, Schumer said victory on the provision is “far from a done deal, but it’s an opportunity to break through the obstructionism Republicans have pushed for the past year.” [...]
As of Wednesday early afternoon, nine senators had signed a letter urging passage of the public health insurance option through reconciliation. [...]
The signatories urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to “bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.”
The public option, which has been the topic of explosive controversy throughout the health care deliberations, was passed in the House legislation but eliminated from the Senate version that was later approved.
The whole process hit a gridlock in January after the election of Republican Scott Brown to the senate, which gave the party the votes it needed to filibuster the final motion.
The letter continues, “There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach – its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.”
With Republicans poised to block another senate motion, Democrats have discussed using reconciliation — which would require a simple majority of 51 senators — to amend the bill before the House holds a final vote. A December poll found that six in ten Americans support the provision.
The liberal advocacy groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America have endorsed the letter, which also encourages citizens to sign in the support of the idea. One hundred and nineteen members of Congress have also signed it.
Next Thursday President Obama will convene a bipartisan summit with Republican leaders to discuss the two parties’ differences on the legislation. After initially equivocating, Republicans have confirmed they will attend.
Daniela Perdomo is a staff writer and editor of the Progressive Wire and Investigations at AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter. Write her at danielaalternet [at] gmail [dot] com.