Yesterday when Politico announced that President Obama was going to give up on the inclusion of a public insurance company option in his Obamacare legislation, opponents of the bill had a big party and started singing “Ding, dong the option’s dead.” There was only one problem with Politico’s analysis, while the President may be willing to drop the “public option” congress decide not to cooperate. On the other hand the President hint of dropping the public options may just be a ruse to calm down the anti-Obamacare sentiment until its too late.
As proof that the public option isn’t even mostly dead, many of Obama’s allies voiced their continued support of the public option today:
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is firmly committed to passing a comprehensive healthcare reform bill with a public insurance option despite signals from top White House aides that the president may forge another path to gain bipartisan approval. “We can’t pass a bill without a public option,” Pelosi told reporters after speaking at a healthcare event hosted by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in her home district.
- The AFL-CIO drew a line in the sand today, saying a health care reform bill must include three specific elements — including a government-sponsored health insurance plan, or “public option” — in order to win their support.
- Democracy for America, the liberal advocacy group founded by former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, expects the president to reiterate his support for the public option when he addresses Congress next week, DFA spokeswoman Mary Rickles said. Meanwhile, she said, her group and its 400,000 members will continue to pressure members of Congress to back the proposal. “Any member of Congress who votes for a bill without a public option and against the wishes of the American people will stand alone for reelection,” she said.
- With or without any skeletons in their closet, members of Congress should feel pressured to vote for a public option if they want to keep their seats, argues the group the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
- House Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., said it will be a “grave error” for Congress to draft a health care reform bill that does not include a government run health insurance option and she believes there are enough liberal lawmakers to block its passage. Woolsey said she is setting up a meeting with President Barack Obama, who this week signaled that he would not insist that a public option be a component of the health care reform bill that is to be the crowning achievement of his first term in office. “The president must support,” a strong public option, Woolsey said, “and he must tell the Senate to get its act together.”
And then there is the case of Rhino Senator Olympia Snow. Reports are that the White House is working on her to be the “bi-partisan” part of a Senate bill, with a trigger plan that might get the progressives to buy a plan that does not include a public option at first:
Senior White House officials, in conversations with reporters today, are floating the idea that President Obama is secretly negotiating with Sen. Olympia Snowe over a health care compromise that would phase in a government-funded health care alternative if private insurance companies fail to meet quality and cost benchmarks over a certain period of the time. The public discussion of the Snowe “compromise” is meant to test the reaction of House Democrats, who will pass a bill that includes an immediate public option added to a new health insurance exchange. The White House hopes that, having voted for a public option, House Dems would accept a “trigger” as part of a conference committee compromise rather than putting the kibosh on the entire health care reform project. In some ways, this strategy is old, and in some ways it’s new. For months, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been pushing the idea of a “trigger” internally, and he and Snowe regularly trade legislative and political intelligence. When President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress next week, he will present an outline of a comprehensive health care bill — one that will be universal in character. Privately, the White House is signaling that Obama is willing to sign a bill that is less than universal in its coverage ambitions, though the President will not say so publicly.
Folks if you are opposed to the Obama version of health care reform, do not stop fighting because the public option and the other repressive parts of Obamacare are not dead..not even close.