No more delays for healthcare reform fixes

(Two viewpoints: this is one, click here for the other – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s wrong to suggest that any one Senator, alone, has the power to meaningfully change the health reform bill as it exists right now, and attempts to do so run the risk of backfire and very serious consequences for healthcare reform.

We have consistently and strongly advocated for a public option as a vital component of health reform legislation, and we continue to believe a public option would be the most effective near-term means of bringing down the skyrocketing costs of health care. Like everyone supportive of a robust public option, we were disappointed when it was not a part of legislation passed by the Senate.

But just a few weeks ago, most observers believed that health reform legislation was completely dead. It took tremendous political will to resuscitate health reform after the determined efforts of Republicans and their insurance industry benefactors to inject irrationality and hysteria into the debate. This, added to the challenge of not having sixty votes needed for conventional passage of legislation in the Senate.

Thankfully, the House has passed, and President Obama has signed into law, the health reform package passed by the Senate last December. Though far from perfect and lacking important reforms such as optional public insurance, many key goals sought for decades by progressives are included, such as a ban on exclusion of coverage for preexisting conditions and assistance for low income Americans to obtain health coverage. Over thirty million more Americans will have access to health coverage under this bill, and millions more will benefit from the peace of mind of knowing their coverage cannot be denied them when it is needed most.

The House also has passed an accompanying package of “fixes” to the Senate bill, removing some of the more egregious giveaways to recalcitrant moderates, and making other important adjustments. It is absolutely critical that this bill pass the Senate in the process known as “reconciliation.” Although we welcome workable opportunities to pass additional reforms, the fact is that any amendment to the bill passed by the House will send these fixes back for yet another round of debate and opportunity for obstruction. We can’t risk any further delays. Failing to pass these fixes would be a travesty.

The public option for health insurance is not dead, and I believe there will be additional opportunities to pass this needed reform into law soon. In the meantime, progressives should be smart enough to appreciate the long and arduous process that got us here, and wise enough to take the next step when it’s presented.

9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Steve Harvey says:

    This is one of those moments, painful to many, when we have to keep our gun safely holstered rather than shoot ourselves in the foot to prove our valor.

    I know that many true believers equate political pragmatism with moral cowardice, but being pragmatic is what it takes to turn hopes into realities. I’d rather we suffer the indignity of moral cowardice and progress as a result, than enjoy the self-gratification of being morally superior and ensure social stagnation and political impotence in the process.

    • peacemonger says:

      Today’s Huffington Post reads, “If the Senate parliamentarian upholds any one of those points and the bill is altered by so much as a deleted comma, it must then go back to the House for a final vote.

      That’s a scenario Democrats want to avoid and is the justification behind the leadership’s decision to urge Democrats to vote against every … See Moreamendment, even amendments they might otherwise support – such as a public option. “We know the Republicans are likely to offer a lot of amendments, and some of them may be appealing to Democrats, but we have to urge them to stick with the bill,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters earlier in March. “We have to tell people, ‘You just have to swallow hard’ and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can’t let it happen.”

      Now, if Bennet hears otherwise, I am confident he will introduce it. He wants the public option as much as the rest of us do.

  2. MADCO says:

    For Immediate Release

    Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

    On Health Care ‘Poison Pill’ Amendments

    March 23, 2010

    “A ‘NO’ on amendments is a ‘YES’ on health care.”

    As senators prepare to take up fixes to the historic legislation passed by the House late Sunday night, they cannot allow process, technicalities, or cynical ploys to derail the legislation. Republicans are going to use a “kitchen sink” amendment strategy, throwing everything they can at the bill to try to sink reform. This will include amendments on issues that we would otherwise strongly support.

    Any amendment offered during this process is nothing more than a poison pill. A ‘NO’ on amendments is a ‘YES’ on health care.

    Working families won’t be fooled by dirty tricks from the opponents of health reform out to do the bidding of the insurance companies. And US Senators should not be fooled either. Just as we did in the House, unions will employ all our resources to support Senators in passing the reconciliation package and taking the last step on the path to health care reform for all Americans. We will make sure that constituents of Senators who do the right thing and vote “no” on all amendments know the score about what really goes on in the Senate.


    For daily news, information and facts on this and other workers’ issues, go to  

  3. redstateblues says:

    Well said. Bobby.

    What Romanoff and Sirota are calling for Bennet to do would be the equivalent of a climber getting to the Hillary step on Mt. Everest, only to say “I’ll just do this last part blindfolded.”

    We know the proposed amendment wouldn’t pass, so what’s the point? David Sirota would get to call out the “cowards” who voted against it, and Romanoff’s surrogates can claim that if Romanoff had been Senator then he would have wrangled those extra 11 votes, and there’d be a meaty, hearty, robust public option passed in reconciliation and the heavens would open up.

    It would be beyond stupid to have this bill get so far as to be signed into law, only to stall in the Senate so David Sirota can get ratings. The political stunt he’s pulling right now is going to get that particular job done anyway.

    Talk about a bait and switch.

    I’m glad that it appears as though pageantry is going to take second fiddle to doing what’s right for the American people. There’s been far too much of the former, and not enough of the latter in the last year.

  4. paulrosenthal says:

    Glad to see the progressive community come on board with the new law.  I’d love to see the public option pass, but it isn’t to be this year.  I’m psyched over the new law and all Democrats and Unaffiliateds should too.  I suspect there are a lot of Republicans who privately, in a demonstration of guilty pleasure, actually are glad it passed too.

  5. peacemonger says:

    I was not able to express what you did as clearly — the whole health reform issue is very personal to me and my family, and I get very emotional about it sometimes.

    We mustn’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. We have far too many lives at stake, here. I hope Mr. Sirota and Mr. Romanoff will understand what you and so many of us who have worked 24/7 on health care reform this past year know to be true.

  6. Danny the Red (hair) says:

    Not perfect (not even good), but some significant positives and for me, just as important, it strengthens the president in everything else he needs to do.

    Whether negotiating with the Israelis or crafting financial reform, defeat (or more procedural defeats) would weaken a President just as he has picking up momentum.  

  7. JeffcoBlue says:

    Sirota has assigned you to the “enemy” column:

    Just back from Bennet event – great turnout. Only thing not cool: ProgressNow and SEIU’s leadership came to protest AGAINST the pub option.

    Funny, is that what you were doing? Doesn’t seem like it from this letter.

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