As you know, on Monday, Majority Leader Reid sent a merged Senate health care bill to the CBO that contained a public option with an opt out provision for states. This represents a major victory for proponents of real health care reform. Just weeks ago, any public option at all was thought dead and many thought the best we could do would be a triggered public option, but on Monday the bill Senator Reid sent to the CBO had no trigger mechanism in it at all. So, what happened?

Well, for one thing, you did.

Since the Spring you have been fighting consistently for a public option. You blogged, you called, you protested, you faxed, you e-mailed and you tweeted. Despite the heat (and lies) of August, despite the Washington conventional wisdom having prematurely declared the public option dead and despite being told "there simply aren't 60 votes" you continued to fight for it and now we're as close as we've ever been to passing a public option out of the congress.

And for that I wanted to come by today and say "thank you!"

Whether here at DailyKos, in the comments of my Facebook page or in discussions with every day New Yorkers, I kept hearing a consistent, persistent and passionate drumbeat for change, the demand for a system that would compete with private insurers so that we could keep down costs and expand choice and access to care for everyone. This year, no matter where I went, no matter who I was speaking to, I consistently advocated for a public option and have collected more than 22,000 signatures on a petition demanding one. While opponents may have been louder at times, your voices were never drowned out. I could hear you loud and clear and it made all the difference in the world.

Now, as important as it is to recognize and even celebrate how far we've come in this debate, there is still more work to be done. There will be fierce debate on this bill and opportunities to make it stronger and more inclusive. There will also be attempts to weaken it and we will need your activism and advocacy to help us resist those attempts. Then, of course, once we have a final bill, we'll need you to keep the pressure on in order to win the 60 votes necessary to end debate and get the public option out of the Senate and into the conference report.

I, for one, pledge to vote for cloture on a bill with a public option and urge my Senate colleagues to do the same. While some of my fellow Democrats and Independents have principled differences on the substance of the plan, I'd urge them all to vote to allow the bill to go to the floor. A majority of Americans support the public option, a majority of the Congress supports the public option, it's only right that the public option gets an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate.

I am so excited about how much progress we've made together on health care this year and look forward to continuing the fight to the end with you.

I have time to take questions in the comments so please join me...

Originally posted to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 07:59 AM PDT.

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