Andy Stern announced today that the Senate bill should be passed, with the proviso that the more egregious taxing issues be modified on a parallel track via budget reconciliation:
Step one: The House should pass the Senate's health insurance reform bill - with an agreement that it will be fixed, fixed right, and fixed right away through a parallel process.
Reform can work -- the Senate bill can serve as the foundation for reform and include at minimum the improvements the Administration, House, and Senate have negotiated. We cannot squander the opportunity to make real progress. The House and Senate must move forward together. And, there is no reason they cannot move forward together to make those changes through any means possible -- whether through reconciliation or other pieces of moving legislation.
It's good to see that Stern recognizes what many of us have been saying: countless people will suffer and die if no reform is passed.
For Pat Dejong and the millions of working families like her's across the country, today is no different than yesterday when a Democratic senator held Ted Kennedy's old seat. Pat DeJong will still wake up in Libby, Montana. She'll still mourn the loss of her husband and the family ranch they lost because of his medical bills. And, Pat will still go to the bedside of her patients each day, still lacking coverage of her own.
Will the Democratic majority act like they just lost 50 seats? Will they follow through on their promises and govern? To all the weak kneed senators and House members who are caught up in the politics of fear, listen to Andy:
Some in Washington may want to throw their hands up and walk away; others may call for walking back reform by passing something smaller. So let's just say it: the Democrats own health reform. They own the votes they already took. And, they own what health reform will stand for. Most importantly, it will be a major achievement the American people need and deserve. There is no turning back. There is no running away. There is no reset button.
Democrats own this. Republicans would NEVER let a bill like this die when it is so close to passage.