Saturday, December 12, 2009


Progressive Congressional leaders are letting us down!
by Charlie Leck

I'm so frustrated about the recent Congressional compromise on the health care reform package, that I am ready to throw in the towel. What they are thinking about voting on is NOT health care reform. It doesn't change the delivery system one iota. It provides some older citizens with an opportunity to opt into Medicare, but at a cost most of them will not be able to afford.
Keep remembering that we are the only one of the developed nations in the world that does NOT provide guaranteed health care to its citizens. How uncivilized!

Robert Reich, who, along with Howard Dean, has been one of the champions of the public option, doesn't want to give up the fight. He writes, on behalf of Move-On, that we should pound on the doors of our Congresspersons and say, "no, no, no!"

Unfortunately, one of my Senators, Amy Klobuchar, is one of the leaders at the center of the compromise. Senator Al Franken is still wavering on it. My U.S. Representative doesn't think it goes far enough. It looks like the big, rich, powerful insurance companies are going to win on this one, folks. Nevertheless, if you've any energy left, communicate with your Congressional representatives and tell them you sill want the public option. Here a copy of the communication from Robert Reich -- just in case you didn't receive it.

"Dear MoveOn member,

Hi. I'm Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and currently a professor at the University of California.

You've probably heard about a possible "deal" in the Senate to do away with the public option. I'm here to tell you that this is no deal: it's a gift to Big Insurance, plain and simple. The details are sketchy. The only thing that's really clear is the deal would drop the public option from the bill. With no public option, there's no guarantee of real competition. And without real competition, health care costs will continue to be out of control. But the deal is far from done.

If voters generate a massive outcry around this and progressive leaders in Congress fight back, we can fix it. Can you sign a petition to leaders in Congress and the White House right away?

Click here to add your name:

The petition says: "You must make sure health care reform includes a real public option—it's what the majority of Americans want. Anything less is a gift to Big Insurance." With no public option, the Senate "deal" is a giveaway to Big Insurance—and industry insiders admit it! One recently wrote "We WIN," in an email about the "deal."1

What's in this "deal"? Like I said, almost no one knows the details. That means that progressives who embrace it right now may be giving away the store without getting anything in return. But here's what we do know: First, it might allow some 55-64 year-olds to buy into Medicare. Second, it might allow those without employer health insurance to buy private insurance the way federal employees do.2 So what's the problem here? A system of only private insurers simply will not control costs. Without competition from a public option, insurance companies have no incentive to compete—just like now.3

Enlarging Medicare is no answer. The Senate bill slows Medicare's costs only if they're rising faster than total health spending. But with private insurers running the show, total health spending will still be out of control.4 Plus, we have no idea how many people might be allowed to buy into Medicare, or if it will be even close to affordable for them. Health care reform must include a strong public option. It's key to controlling costs, expanding coverage, and forcing Big Insurance to compete. Without it, we'll end up with a national health care system controlled by a handful of very large corporations accountable neither to American voters nor to the market. And that is not even close to real health care reform.

Please sign the petition to House and Senate leadership and the White House today. The deal is still up in the air. If congressional progressives hold strong—and public demand for a public option is clear—then White House and congressional leaders will have to do what they haven't: put pressure on the few conservative Democrats to get on board and help pass real health care reform with a public option.

Click here to sign your name:

Thank you for all you do. –Robert Reich


1. "Insurance industry insider: 'We win,'" Politico, December 7, 2009

2. "How a Few Private Health Insurers Are on the Way to Controlling Health Care," Robert Reich, December 10, 2009
I've signed the petition. I'm not very hopeful, but I may as well keep trying.

By the way, this is the letter Senator Franken sent out to those of us who have been bugging him (it's all wrong becasue this plan will no save people money). And, sorry Al, but I'm not giving money to you or anyone else unless they fight for the public option right down to finish line.
Dear Charles,

As you've probably heard, on Monday night progressives and moderates reached a compromise to keep health insurance reform moving through the Senate. After decades of talking about fixing our broken health care system, the Senate is poised to finally deliver for the American people - and it's about time.

I've said all along that health insurance reform must bring down costs and improve access to get my support. A public option would do that, so I was disappointed to learn that it's not part of this agreement. However, there are reasons to be hopeful that this compromise will succeed at keeping premiums down for families.

The plain fact is, we are one step closer to extending health coverage to 31 million Americans and giving some peace of mind to tens of millions more. If this compromise includes proposals I've been fighting for, like ensuring that a higher percentage of premium dollars are spent on health care rather than profits and wasteful administrative costs, we will achieve the end result that I want - high-quality, affordable health coverage for Minnesota families and small businesses.

I'll keep you updated as the bill progresses, as we've still got a ways to go. But there's one thing you can be sure of - Republicans and special interests will be on the attack in Minnesota to make a last ditch attempt to distort, derail, delay, or flat-out kill the reform effort.

If you can, please click here to make a contribution of $5 today to help us get our positive message out.

Thanks for all you've done, and all you'll do.


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