House Progressives Take Hard Line on Public Option

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, in response to pressure from the Blue Dogs to water down healthcare reform, are fighting back. On Friday afternoon, eight members of the caucus wrote to Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the entire CPC, to draw a line on any efforts to further weaken the public option.

The time to reform our health care system is now.  As Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we believe that we must not delay a vote on health care reform.  The need for reform is urgent.  Approximately 14,000 Americans are losing their health care coverage each day and our businesses on Main Street and Wall Street are struggling to recover from our nation’s economic crisis….

We want to assure you that for our continued support, the public option must not be based on any trigger and must be available immediately. Further, the public plan must be on a level playing field and receive the same subsidies as private plans in the Health Exchange.  And, it must be connected to the Medicare infrastructure, including the provider and payment system. Allowing providers to opt out of the public option has already created a loss of $91 billion in savings.  We cannot tolerate further weakening of the public option.  

We are also concerned about the latest discussion regarding the Independent Medicare Advisory Commission (IMAC).  We understand that no final decision has been made. However if discussions move forward to make IMAC a reality, we ask that you include us in discussion as we have concerns with the governance, oversight, and the impact it would have on seniors, people with disabilities , doctors, and hospitals.  Furthermore, we are concerned that IMAC could weaken the public option and negate our responsibilities as Members of Congress.

That’s 82 votes for the kind of healthcare reform that is worth doing. More than 50 of them are on the record with caucus leadership as refusing to vote for any legislation that does not have a robust public option. Hopefully some of that spirit will inject their counterparts on the Senate side.


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