Extremely disappointing wire story on the public dialog about a public option:
Co-op compromise gives White House a health option
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer
Sunday, June 14, 2009
(06-14) 12:10 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --
Cabinet officials and Obama allies on Sunday sought to rein in lawmakers, who were expected this week to introduce specific plans that run counter to Obama's political promises. Many urged lawmakers to consider a cooperative program that would expand coverage to the 50 million uninsured Americans with taxpayer support without direct governmental control.
More after the jump.
Some of those ways, though, run counter to the White House's earlier positions and Obama's own political base. While supporters from Obama's left have advocated a government-run option — championed by an ailing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his surrogate, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. — presidential aides and congressional leaders in both parties have sought a speedy compromise.
Obama's political team at the White House has seen such a compromise as an option, although publicly the administration remains in support of a government competitor to private insurance. But during appearances on Sunday news programs, the support seemed to waver.
Sebelius said "having these ideas on the table is exactly where we need to be right now." And Vice President Joe Biden indicated the White House was ready to accept that "a public plan is on a continuum."
Full story here.
It's not surprising for those of us who've been tracking healthcare reform to see that the public option--any public option--has been framed as a proposal coming from the "left," particularly since single-payer was shut out from the start from the legislative debate about healthcare reform.
It is, however, deeply disappointing to see that the White House is so willing to bargain away the one facet that would provide Americans with a meaningful choice in the form of a robust public option that would serve our needs rather that serving the needs of shareholders in for-profit insurance companies.
A mandate to purchase private health insurance--even (rather, especially) when our tax dollars will be used to further entrench and enable private insurers to deny care to those who need it--is worse than no legislation at all. Passing such a plan would not only institutionalize the problems we face obtaining approval for healthcare under private insurance, but would jeopardize the Dem majority come the midterm elections, once voters recognize that "reform" was a sham and a taxpayer giveaway to private insurance.
This week the Senate Dems are due to debut their final plans for a public option--or weaksauce alternatives, such as Conrad's co-ops, which means it's our last chance to try to sway them toward offering a robust public option as part of any healthcare-reform legislation, and to shift the public debate toward ensuring that a public option serves as real competition to the health-insurance industry parasites.
I'm reprinting the following action alert from Slinkerwink's last diary:
PLEASE CALL the White House and let President Obama know that you don't want him to consider the "7-year trigger" for the public option. Let him know that you're ANGRY that he's doing this. Tell him it won't be REAL health care reform without an immediately available, strong, robust Medicare-like public option.
CALL the White House at: 202-456-1111 and E-MAIL them as well!
PLEASE CALL these Senators on the Senate Finance Committee today to demand a strong, robust affordable Medicare-like public option. Here's a list of talking points below:
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.
Please CALL Senator Max Baucus at (202) 224-2651
Please CALL Senator Charles Schumer at 202-224-6542
Please CALL Senator Edward Kennedy at (202) 224-4543
Please CALL Senator John Rockefeller at (202) 224-6472
Please CALL Senator Ron Wyden at (202) 224-5244
Please CALL Senator Kent Conrad at (202) 224-2043
Please CALL Senator Jeff Bingaman at (202) 224-5521
Please CALL Senator John Kerry at (202) 224-2742
Please CALL Senator Blanche Lincoln at 202-224-4843
Please CALL Senator Debbie Stabenow at (202) 224-4822
Please CALL Senator Maria Cantwell at 202-224-3441
Please CALL Senator Bill Nelson at 202-224-5274
Please CALL Senator Robert Menendez at 202-224-4744
Please CALL Senator Thomas Carper at (202) 224-2441
This coming week may be one of the most important for healthcare-reform activists this year, and your phonecalls may never have more impact than they do now. Please take the time to let the White House, your senators and your representative know that including a public option is non-negotiable when it comes to your supporting Democratic legislation for healthcare reform.
Edit: Wow, thanks for the recs. :) Let me be clear: this diary was posted because I believe passionately in healthcare reform, and because soon action alerts will become moot. I want to believe that Dems will not pass a bill that doesn't include a robust public option yet at the same time I know it's up to us to make them do the right thing.