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Yesterday, Senator Schumer proposed a "middle ground" on healthcare reform. The New York Times reports the core points of his "compromise":

• The public plan must be self-sustaining. It should pay claims with money raised from premiums and co-payments. It should not receive tax revenue or appropriations from the government.

• The public plan should pay doctors and hospitals more than what Medicare pays. Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are often lower than what private insurers pay.

• The government should not compel doctors and hospitals to participate in a public plan just because they participate in Medicare.

• To prevent the government from serving as both "player and umpire," the officials who manage a public plan should be different from those who regulate the insurance market.

Some of the experts say that these points aren’t a big deal and maybe they’re right. Slinkerwink does not agree here.

But what about these quotes?

From Max Baucus, Senate Finance Committee Chairman:

"It’s on the table, but it’s a little over on the side of the table right now," Baucus said of the public option, adding that "it’s going to come up tomorrow when we have our roundtable discussions." In an interview with the Wonk Room in March, Baucus said, "I think we can accomplish" health care reform "without" a public plan.

From Senator Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat

Sen. Ben Nelson said Friday that he will oppose legislation that would give people the option of a public health insurance plan. Nelson's problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game," Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a "deal breaker."

From Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania "Democrat" on Meet the Press

On a public option for health insurance... Specter said he would be in opposition. "That's what I said and that's what I meant," he added later, when asked if he would vote "no" on public health care.

That’s four Senators in four days and none of those quotes sound good to me. We need to step up the pressure today. No matter who your Senators are or where they stand, call your Senator right now: (202) 224-3121

Limiting choice to for-profit insurance only -- or a public system that works like for-profit insurance -- is not real reform. What's really disturbing about all of this is that before the battle even really begins, it sure sounds like our Democratic leaders are already caving to the Republican minority.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to create a robust public plan that would keep insurance companies honest and competitive, and the American people supported his plan in November. Put simply, we didn't vote for a middle ground.

I’m just not sure that some of these Democrats get it, but Dr. Howard Dean does. That's why he's leading the charge for real reform that includes a universally available public option like Medicare for everyone in America.

I’m not kidding. Stop reading this blog for a moment and call your Senators:

Senate Switchboard
(202) 224-3121

Then, report your call here:

On Monday, Democracy for America and MoveOn held an emergency online briefing with Dr. Dean to talk about what we as activists need to know to win on healthcare this year, and more than 30,000 of you RSVPd. In case you missed the call, you can listen to the recording here.

On the call, Dr. Dean gave us an inside look at the battle for real health care reform -- and talked about what we can do to make sure that the reform we voted for becomes a reality.

The last time Democrats tried to pass comprehensive health care reform, it failed because they weren’t organized and no one fought back. Progressives won't let that happen again. Go to to sign the petition and find out what you can do to make sure Americans get what they voted for—real healthcare reform that includes a public option for everyone in America.

Oh and seriously, what are you waiting for? Call your Senator! Everyone needs to hear from us this week. Every single one of them.

Senate Switchboard
(202) 224-3121

Be sure to report your call here:


Originally posted to Charles Chamberlain on Wed May 06, 2009 at 08:00 AM PDT.

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