Mr. President: The American People Need a Public Option

October 24, 2009

(ChattahBox)—An alarming report from Talking Points Memo yesterday, quoting unnamed sources, suggesting that President Obama was opposed to Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) public opt-out option, sunk the hopes of many Americans that an end to our health insurance nightmare was in sight. The fight to fix our broken health care system has been long and hard, with special interests with deep pockets and teabagger protesters fighting just as hard to keep the status quo.

The public option, once thought dead after the combative August town halls, is now alive and kicking, because the American people want and desperately need it. Mr. President please support the hard work of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fight for the votes needed for a public option.

According to TPM, Sen. Reid walked over to the White House Thursday night to inform the President that he was very close to securing 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause. But the President opposed the idea and pushed a worthless trigger option instead, in the hopes of retaining the support of Republican Olympia Snowe from Maine.

“‘They’re skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger,” said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. “They’re certainly not calming moderates’ concerns on opt out.”‘

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), a strong supporter of a public option, pushed back yesterday against the notion of a trigger option:

“Historically, ‘trigger’ mechanisms have not been successful, and they are not a substitute for a strong public health insurance option,” said Rockefeller.

“A ‘trigger’ simply delays price competition, which in turn will delay affordability for consumers and moves us farther away from the goals of health care reform. Already, we are seeing insurance companies threatening to game the system, by raising their prices in advance of reform. The only way to curb price-gouging by health insurance companies is with real competition on day one–that is the public option,” wrote Rockefeller in a press release.

The White House then denied the report yesterday, claiming it was still supporting a public option:

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer issued the following statement:

“The report is false. The White House continues to work with the Senate on the merging of the two bills. We are making good progress toward enacting comprehensive health reform.”

The White House statement was hardly encouraging , as it made no mention of a public option. It’s hard to know what to make of all of the behind the scenes wrangling, but it seems clear President Obama is willing to sacrifice a public option to get a bill passed. That’s not acceptable. Without a public option, there can’t be true health reform.

Despite Harry Reid’s shortcomings as a Senate Majority Leader, somehow he was able to twist enough arms and deliver the goods. Full and public support from the White House for his efforts to include a public option could propel Reid’s bill over the finish line. So, why is President Obama withholding it?

Mr. President, the American people need a public option. Please don’t let us down.


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