I've seen the Congressional Progressive Caucus's most recent whip list for healthcare reform, and it's--to say the least--very encouraging. It's also a testament to the longterm efforts of nyceve and the netroots community to keep healthcare reform alive as an issue for the past several years. As of last week, a total of 50 CPC members vow to vote against any bill that did not meet their criteria for a public option.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus calls for a robust public option that must:
- Enact concurrently with other significant expansions of coverage and must not be conditioned on private industry actions.
- Consist of one entity, operated by the federal government, which sets policies and bears the risk for paying medical claims to keep administrative costs low and provide a higher standard of care.
- Be available to all individuals and employers across the nation without limitation
- Allow patients to have access to their choice of doctors and other providers that meet defined participation standards, similar to the traditional Medicare model, promote the medical home model, and eliminate lifetime caps on benefits.
- Have the ability to structure the provider rates to promote quality care, primary care, prevention, chronic care management, and good public health.
- Utilize the existing infrastructure of successful public programs like Medicare in order to maintain transparency and consumer protections for administering processes including payment systems, claims and appeals.
- Establish or negotiate rates with pharmaceutical companies, durable medical equipment providers, and other providers to achieve the lowest prices for consumers.
- Receive a level of subsidy and support that is no less than that received by private plans.
- Ensure premiums must be priced at the lowest levels possible, not tied to the rates of private insurance plans.
In conclusion, the public plan, like all other qualified plans, must redress historical disparities in underrepresented communities. It must provide a standard package of comprehensive benefits including dental, vision, mental health and prescription drug coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusions. It must limit cost-sharing so that there are no barriers to care, and incorporate up-to-date best practice models to improve quality and lower costs. All plans, including the public plan, must include coverage for evidence-based preventive health services at minimal or no co-pay. All plans, including the public plan, should be at least as transparent as traditional Medicare.
Let me reiterate--50 members have said they will not vote for a bill that does not meet these criteria. Those 50, who are most deserving of our thanks, particularly those like Eric Massa who are in districts that aren't deep blue:
The following 11 are leaning "yes" ("yes" meaning voting only for the CPC criteria). If one of the following is your representative, call them:
The remaining 12 are either leaning no or undecided, and could use some friendly persuasion from constituents:
*Miller as committee chair involved, and Markey as a prominent subcommittee chair on one of the committees involved, as well as a number of other actors prominent in the debate (Rangel, Stark) are either saying they're undecided or didn't respond in the whip count.
It certainly doesn't hurt for their constituents to contact them, but their being uncommitted at this point shouldn't be read as lack of commitment to a strong public option. Also important to note is that this is just the CPC list, there are other members who belong to affiliated caucuses--CBC, CHC, CAPAC, Populists, New Dems, and unaffiliated--were not whipped in this list, so 50 is just the minimum number in the voting bloc for a strong public option.
Again, the longterm grassroots and netroots activism on this issue has helped keep the issue alive, but more importantly has helped provide a solid backstop for these members. So pat yourselves on the back, but do that after you contact the folks above and thank them for their standing up for their constituents.
Update: Meant to include FDL's Whip Count tool above. It's a fantastic resource for contacting your member and important tool for the grassroots and netroots to keep up the pressure. Use it, and use it frequently.