While advocates of true health care reform have been praising the House of Representatives for passing a bill that includes a public option, everyone still knows that there’s a lot of work to be done in order to make sure that meaningful legislation also makes it through the Senate. Unfortunately, it looks like there are some Democrats who are looking for ways to pass anything but a public option. Sen. Tom Carper, for instance, proposed a plan that combined Olympia Snowe’s idea of a trigger with the co-op plan that other anti-public option folks are proposing.
In other words, Carper wants to take two ideas that would severely weaken any chance of reform that we have. Even when it would trigger a public option, the trigger plan that Sen. Snowe has been promoting would simply delay reform and give the insurance companies time to gear up another effort to prevent anything from being done that would take away their enormous profits. In the meantime, families would continue to face bankruptcy – including 1,400 every year right here in the 11th Congressional District – due to the enormous costs of health care. Now Carper wants the American people to have to watch insurance companies rake in huge profits in hopes that a co-op might be triggered in a few years. This is unacceptable because even if the co-op was triggered it wouldn’t be big enough to actually negotiate lower rates with insurance companies.
This is where Democratic members of the US Senate can learn something from the Creigh Deeds campaign. One of the main reasons he didn’t do well on Tuesday was because he distanced himself from Democratic values. In fact, one of the final nails in the coffin for many progressive activists was that he publicly said he’d strongly considering opting out of the public option if he was elected governor. In other words, even in a moderate state like Virginia a Democratic candidate greatly suffered because he didn’t support the public option. If passing the best possible piece of legislation isn’t motivation enough, then the impact of not supporting the best plan here is something that the Blue Dogs who are worried about being re-elected should pay attention to.
Above all else, the fact that a deal like this was being worked out behind closed doors (like FDL reports this one was) shows the importance of making your opinion heard. No matter how many secret meetings go on, Senators aren’t likely to ignore thousands upon thousands of phone calls made into their office or people hitting the streets in support of the public option. So make sure your voice is heard and call your Senators’ offices right now. The capitol switchboard’s number is 202-224-3121.