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Yesterday, the Tri-Caucus, which is made up of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, all joined together in favor of a STRONG, ROBUST public option! They said that they wouldn't vote for any legislation without a strong public option. That means if they get a Senate bill that doesn't have a strong public option or doesn't have it at all, they will VOTE against it!

And that's good news for us. It means that we have a counter-bloc that's willing to leverage their voting muscle in the House against any weak health care reform bill from the Senate. It means that concessions have to be made TO them from the other side--which would be the House leadership and the Senate leadership--in order to keep the public option in play in the final legislative package.

"We cannot move forward without a strong public option," stated Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Health care costs are skyrocketing for everyone, and our health is worsening. It is time that we attain health care reform that prioritizes and alleviates the financial burden on families."

"The benefits of a public health plan are clear. A public health plan will guarantee coverage regardless of pre-existing condition. A public health plan will give patients a choice of doctors and hospitals. And a public health plan will build in incentives for private insurers to lower costs to compete," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. "When it comes to the public plan, know that the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus speak with one voice."

And here's a quote from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey about how they're going to bat for us on the public option in health care reform:

"This process of publicly issuing our own criteria isn't how progressives normally operate. Usually, we work behind the scenes to strengthen legislation. This time, however, is different. No one in this building wants health care reform as much as we do," said Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA-06), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Nonetheless, if reform legislation comes to the floor, and it does not include a real and robust public option that lives up to our criteria, then we will fight it with everything that we have."

The Energy and Commerce Committee is having their meeting today over the discussion draft of the House bill with the public option in it. I really NEED for you to CALL the House Energy and Commerce Committee at  (202) 225-2927 to ask them to support a STRONGER public option than what is currently proposed in the Tri-Committee draft with these talking points below:

Tell Representative Waxman that we want them to consider starting the National Exchange and the public option earlier than 2013 because we desperately need affordable health care RIGHT NOW. Also, tell him or her that YOU DON'T WANT the public option's tie to Medicare rates to "severed over time as more flexible payment systems are developed." You want the public option to be based on Medicare plus rates, and that you don't want the public option to end up as a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. You want it to be administered by the government and NOT by any private insurance companies, and to be like Medicare based on its ability to negotiate rates with providers and pharmaceutical companies.  Also, that you want employer group plans to have ACCESS to the public option, and not be locked out of that access. Say that you don't want your health benefits to be taxed, but that you support a raise in taxes for the wealthy to help pay for the public option. You don't want the public option to be self-sustained only by premiums because that will help hobble its viability, and that you NEED for it to have some financing from the government.

Also, can you please CALL these TWO other chairmen in the House of Representatives, especially Rep. Miller  who's leading the charge on health care reform below with your concerns about the weak points of the public option in their house bill?

Ways and Means Committee Chair Charlie Rangel (202) 225-3625)

Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller (202) 225-3725)

CALL Senator Dodd at (202) 224-2823 and ask him to put in OPTION A, which is the strong, robust Medicare-like public option, NOT OPTION B, which is the Conrad co-op proposal, in the markup. He says that the CBO will release the score on the public option late today or tomorrow. Why can't we SEE the full text of the public option ourselves in the bill draft?

ALSO, PLEASE CALL the phone numbers of ALL the Senators on the HELP Committee with these talking points below and tell them to support OPTION A, not OPTION B, in the mark-up:

Tell Senator [Name] that you DO NOT want the 7-year trigger for the public option and take it off the table, and that you want him to support an affordable strong, robust Medicare-like public option. We NEED a strong, robust Medicare-like public option NOW OPEN TO ALL AMERICANS AND AFFORDABLE, not more of the SAME broken system that's given us unaffordable premiums, little private insurance coverage, and rising co-pays. Also, DON'T TAX OUR EMPLOYER HEALTH BENEFITS. Instead, follow the proposal by President Obama to tax the wealthy above $250,000, eliminate the overpayments in Medicare Advantage, and put tax capital gains to help fund health care reform. TELL YOUR SENATOR NO ON THE SCHUMER COMPROMISE AND NO ON THE CONRAD CO-OP COMPROMISE.

These are the members of the HELP Committee to CALL today since they're having their markup.

Tom Harkin (IA): (202) 224-3254
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD): (202) 224-4654
Jeff Bingaman (NM): (202) 224-5521
Patty Murray (WA: (202) 224-2621
Jack Reed (RI): (202) 224-4642
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT): (202) 224-5141
Sherrod Brown (OH): (202) 224-2315
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA): (202) 224-6324
Kay Hagan (NC): (202) 224-6342
Jeff Merkley (OR): (202) 224-3753

CALL the White House at: 202-456-1111 and E-MAIL them as well to let them know that you DO NOT want the Conrad co-op alternative, and that you want a strong, robust Medicare-like public option instead!

Please feel free to REC up this diary so it can be on the rec list for others to see the phone numbers and call today.

UPDATE: Senator Kerry Pushes FOR A TEN-YEAR TRIGGER for the public option? CALL Senator Kerry at (202) 224-2742 to let him know NO triggers for the public option!

Originally posted to slinkerwink on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 07:20 AM PDT.

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