The public option is back from a near-death experience.
In the wake of an outcry from key Democratic lawmakers and progressives, the White House walked back Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ comment that a government-run health insurance option is “not the essential element.”
In a statement, Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said:
Recent comments by Obama Administration officials regarding the public option and health reform are deeply troubling.
Any bill without a public health insurance plan like Medicare is not health reform.
Without a public option there will be no way to keep insurance companies honest and their rates down. A public health option that competes with private insurers will set standards that could help lower costs and improve access.
The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to ensuring that health reform is meaningful and that means making sure the a public option is part of the package.”
Lee’s concerns were echoed by Rep. Maxine Waters:
I am very troubled to hear that after months of negotiations – supposedly moving toward meaningful health care reform – the public option may in fact be off the table. As I have said before, particularly in conjunction with my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I will not be able to support a health care reform bill that does not guarantee the creation of a public option that will provide an alternative for the 47 million uninsured Americans and millions more who face rising premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
The pressure on Congress from lobbyists who represent health care reform opponents is immense: recent reports suggest there may be as many as 6 lobbyists for each Member of Congress working to defeat meaningful health care reform. I cannot and will not sit by and quietly allow outside opposition to dismantle a program meant to provide the American people with an option so that they and their families can access quality, affordable health care.
Some of the opposition is cold-hearted politics. They want to see the President fail … We control the White House, the House and the Senate. If we can’t do it, we don’t deserve to be in control.
We are too darn quiet. We need to make some noise.
To make your voice heard, visit WeWantThePublicOption.com.