House Liberals: Bill Must Include Public Option
"With the battle over health care reform heating up over the issue of a public insurance option, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the House must pass an overhaul that includes a public option," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The comments came at a San Francisco news conference. Referring to the growing momentum behind a plan for Washington to seed privately-operated, consumer-owned health insurance cooperatives, the California Democrat said, "If someone thinks that a co-op can work for their state, that's fine. ... But it is not a substitute for a public option." She also said, "If someone can come up with a better idea, let them put it on the table. But we haven't heard that yet."
"Progressive groups and political leaders have stepped up the pressure for health care reform as conservatives have criticized the efforts as a costly expansion of government that could put private insurers out of business and force employers to abandon their current coverage," the Chronicle reports (Marinucci, 8/21).
Other House liberals are also touting the public plan in an effort to seize momentum before the debate returns to the Capitol next month. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said, "'the reality has hit home that the public option' is the only way to achieve meaningful reform," Roll Call reports. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said he and 60 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus would not "back down" and vote for a bill that does not include a public plan. "The left wing of the party is hoping a strong rally by liberals in the House will help shore up prospects for the public option," Roll Call reports (Newmyer, 8/20).