Jay Rockefeller rarely finds an appreciative audience in the blogosphere, but he's taken a very public and progressive stand on health care reform, and for that he deserves a few plaudits. As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, he's introduced the the Consumers Health Care Act that would a true public option to compete with private plans. Here's what he had to had to say about health care back home, in a very decidedly not blue state of West Virginia:
"To me, there is nothing that ultimately makes more difference to Americans than health care.
"People often talk about 45 million uninsured Americans, but rarely mention the 25 million Americans who are underinsured."
Rockefeller estimates at least 100 million Americans face major problems paying for health care today.
"We can't count on insurance companies. They are just maximizing their profits. They are sticking it to consumers.
"I am all for letting insurance companies compete. But I want them to compete in a system that offers real health-care insurance. I call it a public plan," Rockefeller said....
Government-backed programs are big enough to bring medical costs down, Rockefeller believes.
"Back in 1993, all our Veterans Administration hospitals got together and agreed to buy prescription drugs as a group. The next week, the costs of those drugs went down by 50 percent.
"Today, the insurance industry runs this whole deal, spending $1.4 million every day to fight health-insurance reform. The government has a lot of power to lower prices," Rockefeller said....
"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that," Rockefeller added.
"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."
If Jay Rockefeller is calling for partisanship to do the right thing on health care, all of the Democrats in the Senate should recognize that it's not all that radical of a premise, not when the stakes are this high.