Thursday, July 2, 2009

Progress on Healthcare

As the debate has been raging on about healthcare reform with many forces lining up to try and prevent any public option I'm pleased to see that it looks like some progress is being made in that respect.

Democrats have been working on a HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) committee bill to reform our broken healthcare system.  The first working version of this bill was a joke.  It cost over $1 trillion, HAD NO PUBLIC OPTION, and still left millions uninsured.  Though, it looks like thanks to some reliable polling showing overwhelming support for a public option, many Democrats have begun to realize that the time is now to get serious about this.  The Democrats on the HELP committee got to work on a much better package.  The new version of the HELP bill is almost half the price of the first, coming in at about $600 billion.  It INCLUDES A PUBLIC OPTION to compete against private insurers, and requires employers to pay a fee for each employee they have if the company does not provide insurance to their employees.  Businesses of 25 employees or less would not be subject to this provision, so no, this would not be an impediment to small business and local entrepreneurs.  Most importantly in my opinion, this bill would cover approximately 97% of all Americans.  Wow.

And better yet, all 13 Democrats on the HELP committee have pledged to vote for this bill.

I'm glad to see leaders in the Democratic Party responding to the wishes of the people and pursuing real healthcare reform with a strong public plan (too bad our actual majority leader is still a pussy).  We also have a great leader on this issue in Bernie Sanders, (I-VT).  Where Harry Reid doesn't have the balls to discuss how to effectively move progressive legislation through the Senate, Sanders does.

"I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents," Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, 'I'm not gonna vote for this bill, it's too radical, blah, blah, blah, that's fine.'"

"I think the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies, and watering down this bill substantially, rather than demanding we get 60 votes to stop the filibuster, I think that is a very wrong political strategy," Sanders added.

Sanders goes on to discuss the foolishness of caring too much about bi-partisanship.
"I think it would be great if we could have 100 senators voting for this, but what is important is the product that you get, not bipartisanship," Sanders went on. "So we should ask Republicans to support it. If they choose not to they do so at their own political risk. The focus should be on a strong bill trying to get Republican support rather than a weak bipartisan bill."
I think there has been some real movement on this issue in the last couple of weeks in terms of Democrats voicing their strong support for a public option.  This is good news.  But don't think for a second that because we gave the Democrats significant majorities in Congress, or because we put Obama in the White House, that this problem is going to solve itself.  The insurance companies are going to do everything in their power to stop this, and all we can really do--what we must do--is call and write our representatives, and the president, until they're sick of hearing from us, and tell them that we will not settle for any candyass bipartisan bill that doesn't create any real change, and real change includes a public plan.

There are a few conservative Democrats who are on the fence, or may oppose such a plan.  But like Sanders say, that's tolerable as long as they are pressured into voting for cloture and not going along with any Republican filibuster.

So get on the phone with your representatives, and let's make this happen!

Democratic Senators Against the Public Option:

Sen Mary Landrieu D LA 
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? No 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5824 | Fax: 202-224-9735
Web: http://landrieu.senate.gov/ 


Democratic Senators Undecided on the Public Option:

Sen Evan Bayh D IN   ...All Indiana Students, even if you're from out of state, this is YOUR Senator! Call him!!!
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5623 | Fax: 202-228-1377


Sen Max Baucus D MT
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2651 | Fax: 202-224-0515

Sen Mark Begich D AK
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3004 | Fax: 
Web: http://begich.senate.gov 
Sen Michael Bennet D CO
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5852 | Fax: 
Web: http://bennet.senate.gov 
Sen Robert Byrd D WV
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3954 | Fax: 202-228-0002
Web: http://byrd.senate.gov 
Sen Maria Cantwell D WA
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3441 | Fax: 202-228-0514
Web: http://cantwell.senate.gov 
Sen Thomas Carper D DE
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2441 | Fax: 202-228-2190
Web: http://carper.senate.gov 
Sen Kent Conrad D ND
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2043 | Fax: 202-224-7776
Web: http://conrad.senate.gov 
Sen Byron Dorgan D ND
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2551 | Fax: 202-224-1193
Web: http://dorgan.senate.gov 
Sen Dianne Feinstein D CA    ...What the hell, Senator!?!  You're from freak'n California!!!  Get with the program!
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3841 | Fax: 202-228-3954
Web: http://feinstein.senate.gov 
Sen Blanche Lincoln D AR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-4843 | Fax: 202-228-1371
Web: http://lincoln.senate.gov/ 
Sen Bill Nelson D FL
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5274 | Fax: 202-228-2183
Web: http://billnelson.senate.gov/ 
Sen E. Benjamin Nelson D NE
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-6551 | Fax: 202-228-0012
Web: http://bennelson.senate.gov/ 
Sen Mark Pryor D AR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2353 | Fax: 202-228-0908
Web: http://pryor.senate.gov 
Sen Harry Reid D NV
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3542 | Fax: 202-224-7327
Web: http://reid.senate.gov/ 
Sen Jon Tester D MT
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2644 | Fax: 202-224-8594
Web: http://tester.senate.gov/ 
Sen Mark Udall D CO
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5941 | Fax: 202-226-7840
Web: http://markudall.senate.gov 
Sen Mark Warner D VA
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2023 | Fax: 202-224-6295
Web: http://warner.senate.gov 
Sen Ron Wyden D OR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5244 | Fax: 202-228-2717
Web: http://wyden.senate.gov/ 
Update:
Just removed Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) from this list, she is on the HELP committee and is now public with her support for the public option.

3 comments:

ShamRockNRoll said...

If anyone gets a confirmation of support (or opposition) to a public plan (NOT a co-op), please let us know in the comments so we can move the Senator into the appropriate category.

Bill said...

Whoa, hold on. There's no way anyone answering the phones in their offices will let us know anything that wouldn't have already made it in an official statement. If they publicly have said no to the public option or haven't made any statement in that direction, it would be safe to attribute any confirmation of support we receive as an intern's mistake.

ShamRockNRoll said...

I'm not expecting any ground breaking information to come forward, but this list of undecided senators is a week or two old, so maybe some have changed their position since then. That was the point of that statement. Obviously any change in position would come through their spokesperson and not someone answering a phone.