Liberals to fight for public option in health care bill
It appears that there will almost certainly be a public option in the health care bill that will reach the floor of the House. That is, if the 80 member Progressive Caucus has anything to say about it.
Steven Dennis in Roll Call explains:
"No one in this building wants health care reform as much as we do. However, if reform legislation comes to the floor, and it does not include a real and robust public option that lives up to our criteria, then we will fight it with everything that we have," she said.
The draft House bill presented last week includes such a public option, which is supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Obama, but it faces resistance from fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats and a rocky road in the Senate.
Woolsey spoke at a Wednesday joint press conference featuring the Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
The intraparty groups demanded a national Medicare-like public insurance option for everyone that would compete with private insurers, and urged the Senate to come aboard. "I would suggest that they look at the polls," said Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of CAPAC, noting support for a public option at above 70 percent.
"We hope that they will join the president," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said.
"Our cause, our civil rights issue, is a public option," she said. "We will throw ourselves in front of a running train for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
This is a group that could derail the health care bill by joining with House Republicans to oppose any final legislation that comes as a result of a House-Senate conference and where the public option is left off.
This puts Harry Reid in quite a spot. Senate Dems have been casually throwing around the idea that the public option would not necessarily be included in any final bill passed by the senate. Now it appears they have little choice.
Will Blue Dog Dems in the House balk? Given the price tag (at least $1.3 trillion) it is possible that Obama's dream of taking over the health insurance industry will go up in smoke as the liberals shoot down the possibility of reform this year.