Thursday, October 15, 2009

Action Alert: Demand a Strong Public Option from Harry Reid

Robert Reich explains why now is the perfect opportunity to insure that a strong Public Option is included in the health care bill in the Senate.

insurance greed The health-insurance industry has finally revealed itself for what it is.

Insurers hate the idea that's emerged from the Senate Finance Committee of lowering penalties on younger and healthier people who don't buy insurance. Relying on an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, insurers say this means new enrollees will be older and less healthy -- which will drive up costs. And, says the industry, these costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums. Proposed taxes on high-priced "Cadillac" policies will also be passed on to consumers. As a result, premiums will rise faster and higher than the government projects.

It's an eleventh-hour bombshell.

But the bomb went off under the insurers. The only reason these costs can be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums is because there's not enough competition among private insurers to force them to absorb the costs by becoming more efficient. Get it? Health insurers have just made the best argument yet about why a public insurance option is necessary.

Right now they run their markets and set their prices, and pass on any increased costs directly to consumers. That's what they're threatening to do if the legislation attempts to squeeze, even slightly, the colossal profits they plan to make off of thirty million new paying customers.

They want every penny of those profits. They demand every cent. And if the government dares raise their costs a tad higher than they expected when they first signed on to support the bill, they'll pass those costs on to consumers in the form of higher premiums. They can carry out their threat only because they have unaccountable, untrammeled market power.

But they've now hoisted themselves on their own insured petard. They've exposed themselves. If they had to compete with a public insurance plan, they couldn't get away with this threat. They couldn't pass on the extra costs. They'd have to compete with a public insurance option that forced them to give consumers the best deals possible… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  But what makes Harry Reid so important here?  As the Majority Leader, he has the final say on whether a Public Option is included in the bill itself or presented as an amendment.  Sen. Chuck Schumer explains it.

ChuckSchumer Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) threw down the gauntlet on the public option for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last night. Appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, Schumer essentially put the fate of the public option in Reid's hands -- saying that while the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee doesn't include a public health insurance option, it's up to Reid to decide whether to include a public option in the bill that merges the Senate Finance Committee bill with the bills passed by others committees -- all of which do include a public option.

"Leader Reid has the option of putting it in the final bill," Schumer said of the public option. "If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it. And there clearly are not 60 votes against the public option. And so we're urging him to do that, and he's seriously considering it."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

Ok, to make this absolutely clear, if Reid does not include a Public Option, we will need 60 votes to put it in.  If he does, the Republicans will need 60 votes to take it out.  Since they will be unable to accomplish that that, the only way for them to defeat the public option is to filibuster the entire health care bill.  Now, they will surely do so anyway, so what difference does it make?  A big difference.  The biggest obstacle we face is not the Republicans.  It’s the DINOs like Baucus himself.  Most of these turncoats would have no difficulty selling out to the Republicans by voting against just the public option.  But if they don’t have that opportunity, they are faced with a choice.  They can either vote for the bill that includes a public option or they can try to explain to the voters in their states why they voted against the entire bill.

My cell phone company sends me alerts about needed progressive action, and they did so yesterday on this.  Here it is.

Credo On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Max Baucus, passed a health care reform bill without provisions for a public health insurance option.

This opens the door to procedural shenanigans that could prevent the public option from ever being considered on the floor of the Senate, which would make it much harder for the public option to be included in the final bill that lands on the president's desk.

We can't sit back and let the public option die. Tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make sure a public option is included in the health care reform bill that goes to the floor of the Senate.

As the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid will lead a process to merge the Baucus bill with another health care reform bill passed by the Senate HELP Committee, which does include a public option. The product of this merger will go to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Besides President Obama, there is nobody in a position to effectively oppose Senator Reid's decision should he choose to include provisions for a public option. But if Senator Reid does not include a public option in the merged bill, it will be difficult to insert the public option at a later stage of the process.

We have the votes to pass a public option in health care reform. We have to make sure the public option is not abandoned before a full Senate vote even takes place.

Join us in asking Senator Reid to keep the public option alive by including it in the bill that comes to the floor of the Senate.  [emphasis original]

To join this effort and sign the petition, Click Here.  We can win this if we make the effort.


the walking man said...

A public option is the compromise between single payer and market driven insurance. No more misery as a profit stream for them who have enslaved us to a system which only benefits the corporate bottom line.

petition signed

MadMike said...

Harry Reid worries me. He sound like and acts like he has lost his balls. I urge him to find them and demand the public option. I see no real change without it. Petition signed.

TomCat said...

Thank you both for signing.

Mark, exactly!

Mike, I call Harry Reid the Nevada Leg Hound for his propensity to hump the GOP leg, rather than provide meaningful opposition.

RealityZone said...

health care belongs on main st. not wall st.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

You have to "have a pair" before you can lose them.

Nobody will ever confuse Harry Reid with Lyndon B. Johnson.

But....we live in hope.

Oso said...

petition signed.
Nevada Leg Hound fits him TomCat !

TomCat said...

That it does, RZ.

Hugh, that's a most astute observation.

Thanks Oso. And the Reich wingers say I won't criticize Democrats.