The Blue Dogs aren’t the only caucus in Congress flexing their muscles on the health care debate. The Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter; to Speaker Pelosi on Friday making their case for what will be required to garner their support for health care legislation.
The CPC is a strong and vocal advocate of a single payer approach. Nonetheless, we stand solidly behind our criteria for a robust public health insurance plan option.
We want to assure you that for our continued support, the public option must not be based on any trigger and must be available immediately. Further, the public plan must be on a level playing field and receive the same subsidies as private plans in the Health Exchange. And, it must be connected to the Medicare infrastructure, including the provider and payment system. Allowing providers to opt out of the public option has already created a loss of $91 billion in savings. We cannot tolerate further weakening of the public option.
I point this letter out for two reasons. The first is obvious: kudos to the CPC for standing firm on, at a minimum, the public option. It’s not what most progressive Democratic activists want out of this reform effort, but I think it’s a very reasonable first step. A public option will accomplish many goals that single-payer would also achieve. I think enacting a robust public option health care package will lead to a single-payer option down the road.
The second reason is make sure we at SquareState know who one member of the CPC is. Among the 82 members is Rep. Jared Polis. This letter comes after the vote in committee and a previous letter sent to Pelosi detailing the reasons behind that vote that continues to somehow dominate discussion about health care reform. The obsession over Rep. Polis’ previous actions has, in my opinion, reached unhealthy levels, especially in light of his co-sponsorship of the single-payer bill and now this letter once again advocating for single-payer as well as indicating strong support for a public option.
I don’t think the progressive blogosphere and progressive radio and TV personalities will spend as much time on this letter as they have on his previous letter. I don’t even think those personalities will ever take other Democratic congresspeople from CO to task for voting against President Obama’s other critical policy issues, namely climate change, in the same way that they’ve done to Rep. Polis. But that’s alright. After all, it’s more important to drive traffic and attract viewers and listeners than give all topics the same consideration.