Is there a civil war brewing in the Democratic Party? Two of President Obama’s most supportive Caucuses sent the POTUS threatening letters today. Upset with the word that the President was backing away from the Obamacare Public option, both The Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus both sent the President letters saying the “backing away” better be nothing but a false rumor. Oh and they don’t a place holding, in name only public option, the word they use is robust.
There are also reports of a compromise plan in the Senate where the public option would be triggered if insurance companies didn’t meet certain criteria. The progessive letter put the kibosh on that also.
On the other hand, after listening to their constituents for the past month, the Blue Dogs are even more committed to voting against any plan with a public option, and the public plan is not looking very good in the Senate.
The way things look right now the GOP should keep their fingers crossed (and out of the reach of the mouths of pro-obamacare protesters), the Democrats might kill Obamacare:
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Here’s the letter from the Progressives:
September 3, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Dear President Obama:
Thank you for continuing to work with Members of Congress to draft a health reform bill that will provide the real health care reform this country needs. We look forward to meeting with you regarding retaining a robust public option in any final health reform bill and request that that meeting take place as soon as possible.
Public opinion polls continue to show that a majority of Americans want the choice of a robust public plan and we stand in solidarity with them. We continue to support the robust public option that was reported out of the Committees on Ways and Means and Education and Labor and will not vote for a weakened bill on the House Floor or returning from a Conference with the Senate.
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates-not negotiated rates-is unacceptable. A plan with negotiated rates would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of providing choice and competition to keep rates down. The public plan with set rates saves $75 billion, which could be lost if rates are negotiated with providers. Further, this public option must be available immediately and must not be contingent upon any trigger.
Mr. President, the need for reform is urgent. Every day, 14,000 Americans lose their health care coverage. We must have health care reform that will effectively bring down costs and significantly expand access. A health reform bill without a robust public option will not achieve the health reform this country so desperately needs. We cannot vote for anything less.
We look forward to meeting with you to discuss the importance of your support for a robust public plan, which we encourage you to reiterate in your address to the Joint Session of Congress on Wednesday.
Co-Chairs Lynn Woolsey Raul Grijalva
Congressional Progressive Caucus 83 Strong and Growing: Open to New and Different Ideas
Vice Chairs Diane Watson Keith Ellison Sheila Jackson-Lee Mazie Hirono Dennis Kucinich Donna Edwards Alan Grayson Senate Members Bernie Sanders Tom Udall House Members Neil Abercrombie Tammy Baldwin Xavier Becerra Earl Blumenauer Robert Brady Corrine Brown Michael Capuano Andre Carson Donna Christensen Judy Chu Yvette Clarke William “Lacy” Clay Emanuel Cleaver Steve Cohen John Conyers Elijah Cummings Danny Davis Peter DeFazio Rosa DeLauro Sam Farr Chaka Fattah Bob Filner Barney Frank Marcia Fudge Luis Gutierrez John Hall Phil Hare Alcee Hastings Maurice Hinchey Michael Honda Jesse Jackson, Jr. Eddie Bernice Johnson Hank Johnson Marcy Kaptur Carolyn Kilpatrick Barbara Lee John Lewis David Loebsack Ben Ray Lujan Carolyn Maloney Ed Markey Eric Massa Jim McDermott James McGovern George Miller Gwen Moore Jim Moran Jerrold Nadler Eleanor Holmes-Norton John Olver Frank Pallone Ed Pastor Donald Payne Chellie Pingree Jared Polis Charles Rangel Laura Richardson Lucille Roybal-Allard Bobby Rush Linda Sanchez Jan Schakowsky Jose Serrano Louise Slaughter Pete Stark Bennie Thompson John Tierney Nydia Velazquez Maxine Waters Mel Watt Henry Waxman Peter Welch
Congressional Black Caucus Letter is a little nicer in tone, but remember most of the members of the CBC are also members of the progressive caucus.
September 3, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President, United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
We eagerly anticipate your address before Congress next week regarding the urgent need to reform America’s ailing health care system. As the Members of Congress who represent the men, women and children who are disproportionately under- and uninsured, and whose health and wellness have suffered because of the numerous gaps in our nation’s health care system, we are deeply concerned about the current discussions surrounding health care reform and the possibility that current components of the bill – such as a robust public option and myriad health disparity elimination provisions – may be stricken in order to lower its cost to about $500 billion. We sincerely hope that you stress unwavering support for the following in your remarks:
1. An unwillingness to reduce the current costs of the health care reform bill. Despite misinformation about health care reform, such drastic cuts are unnecessary. Many of the nation’s health and health care experts concur that a meaningful, upfront investment is necessary to adequately mend the nation’s broken health care system. The TriComm bill (H.R. 3200), as you know, is budget neutral; in its current state, it is reflective of health legislation that is not only medically and socially appropriate, but fiscally sound. Reducing the overall cost of a budget neutral bill is therefore unnecessary and not a strategy that we do or can support.
2. A strong public health option that will allow the nation’s more than 46 million uninsured Americans – more than half of whom are people of color – to finally have access to affordable, meaningful health care coverage no later than 2013. As you know and we have firmly noted throughout the health care reform debate, a robust public option not only will play a pivotal role in our collective efforts to eliminate uninsurance – a public health challenge that detrimentally affects millions of hardworking, innocent Americans – but also in our efforts to ensure that every American citizen, regardless of race, ethnicity, geography or gender, has affordable access to meaningful, reliable health care treatments and services when needed. Thus, we firmly believe that the extraordinary benefits of a robust public option to the health and strength of this nation should, and do, outweigh the immediate, upfront costs associated with creating it.
3. A strong and demonstrative commitment from the White House to, in the days and weeks to come, use health care reform to achieve health equity. This will include not only ensuring the passage of existing health disparity elimination provisions – such as those around data collection, workforce diversity and community health workers – but also supporting stronger provisions, such as those included in Titles I, II, III and IV of the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2009 (H.R. 3090). These measures are necessary to address the root causes of the health inequities that disproportionately and detrimentally affect racial and ethnic minorities, women, rural Americans and Americans within the U.S. Territories. These provisions are integral to efforts to ensure that as health care reform proceeds, we succeed in closing the gaps in health care that are independent of an insurance coverage, but that millions of Americans fall through and suffer from every day.
4. Inclusion of provisions that will ensure equity and parity for the American men, women and children in the U.S. Territories. The nearly 5 million Americans who live in the U.S. Territories should benefit from health care reform in a manner that is equitable to those Americans who live within the 50 states and in the District of Columbia. This is especially pertinent, given that so many of the nation’s worst health and health care trends are in the U.S. Territories. Therefore we urge you to, reiterate your commitment to ensure that these American citizens receive equal treatment under the health care reform bill..
5. Strong consideration of a trigger that will allow for the savings from prevention and other provisions in H.R. 3200 to replace the current pay-fors that have been identified. This strategy will not only allow the realization of true cost savings of prevention, health disparity elimination and other provisions, but it also will provide an avenue through which the savings generated can replace current pay-fors and/or be used to add important services and programs not currently offered because the costs are deemed too high.
We want to assure you and your Administration that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are committed allies and partners in the fight to reform America’s broken health care system. Together we can seize this unique moment in our nation’s history to ensure that we not only reform our nation’s health care system, but that we transform it in a manner that eliminates uninsurance with a robust public option, achieves health equity for all Americans, and makes us – as a nation – healthier and stronger.
We appreciate your attention to this letter and look forward to working with you on this critically important legislation.
With regards, Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus