We have our public option!

Senators Kennedy and Dodd sent a letter to the rest of the HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee outlining the final plan from the committee. The plan has a smaller price tag than originally reported and will provide coverage for 97% of Americans. It has a healthy public option and is unlikely to garner bipartisan support.

I have a call in to Senator Hagan's office to verify her support for the plan. With all of the hyperbole and nastiness thrown at Kay Hagan the past two weeks, if she comes out in support of the plan I not only expect some here to offer apologies, but I expect us all to embrace the new Kay Hagan Health Care Plan and work like hell to see it through both houses of Congress.

If she fails to support the plan then I provide the next round of rotten tomatoes.


2013 Start Date For The Public Option?

I heard the public option wasnt going to be available for purchase until 2013. A lot of laid off workers whose COBRA has run out who have pre-exisiting conditions need affordable medical insurance NOW!!!

Why don't you wait for the rest of the details

That hasn't been released and the only information I can find is based on old Kos and DemUnderground diaries about the House plan.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Better yet....

Start lobbying members of the three House committees charged with writing the House plan. North Carolina has three reps on those committees - Virginia Foxx, Sue Myrick and Bob Etheridge. Rally their constituents to call and email them. Also, start working on members of the Senate Finance committee. We might not have a senator on that committee, but lobby them anyway.

I think the Senate plan will be out - at least both committees will have their separate plans announced and then the two will merge - expect our public option to get watered down at this point. Then the House will announce its plan. Senate may or may not vote on its plan before House plan is released. I had expected the final House version to be the most acceptable of all the plans. I may very well be wrong.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Glad she's come around

I'm still looking over the bill and seeing what the health reform advocates think, but in the meantime, two quick points re: Hagan:

(1) Why did she sit on the fence so long? If she's really going to bat for a good public option now, that's great. But why all the vacillation? Why the statements arguing that a public option wouldn't work? Why make advocates spend countless hours and dollars lobbying her?

(2) If she's now a supporter of the public option, I'm guessing it's because the progressive community forced her to do it. Popular pressure and grassroots advocacy pushed her off the fence (see point #1). Why would we apologize for that?


I'm glad Hagan now supports a public option (albeit with some reservations), but I never understood what her objections were to begin with.

That said, it's refreshing to have a Senator who can listen to us.

We'll see

My take is that it's all theater at this point, and there are many opportunities for wiggle room, triangulation, back-sliding, and obfuscation. The proposed legislation is inadequate out of the blocks in that it doesn't deliver universal coverage, as I understand it.

I just called her office

The person who answered the phone said that she had not taken a position on the Dodd/Kennedy bill (understandable, since it was just released this morning), that she does support a public option in some form, but had not decided on any specifics.

Let's let her know what we think! 202-224-6342

Betsy, have you seen this

at The Campaign Silo?

Betsy Muse at Blue NC thinks Hagan is owed an apology. But Kay Hagan opposed a public plan quite openly. If she's supporting this, she changed her mind -- which means the activism worked, and everyone who picked up a phone and called, or took the time to write and let her know how they felt should take a bow. Excellent work.

I just saw it

I left a polite comment letting Jane know that she quoted me incorrectly and took what I said out of context. It's pretty obvious I was saying that some "here" at BlueNC said some things that were a bit over the top and did not further our cause one bit.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

No apologies needed

I called Senator Hagan. I had other North Carolinians call Senator Hagan. That is grassroots politics.

So there was some hyperbole and nastiness on this and other blogs. Frustrated people act out in different ways, and blogs are not noted for their absence of hyperbole and nastiness. And with all of the members of Congress there is always the question of whether they will follow the money or follow their constituents. I seriously doubt whether this sort of nastiness and hyperbole fazes Senator Hagan and I doubt whether it even came to her attention.

If I were to ask Senator Hagan to do anything it would be to help move the Senate bill closer in content to the House bill. And to resist the idea of compromise with the Baucus committee, unless Senator Baucus has pleasant surprises for us.

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

It Ain't Personal its Just Politics


I agree with you. This is the give and take of politics.

Instead of being upset with how Hagan made her decision, be happy that Kay made the right decision.

Feel the power of the people, we just won a major skirmish in the very long war with big money interest. They are spending millions each day to defeat the public option and other provisions in the health insurance plan.

We have a long way to go, but let's enjoy the 4th with our small victory.

Seems to me Senator Hagan has done well

to hear the opinions of her constituents. I will give her that and express my thanks to her for it. I don't mind a Senator who is deliberative and not knee-jerk about much. She gets the benefit of the doubt from me for now that this is what occured, a serious deliberative process on her part.

I often worry very much (lose sleep worrying very much) what sort of information our representatives in the great halls of DC get about all sorts of policy issues. This thing, health care reform, is one issue that is very VERY important to me and I just couldn't sit and hope that our Senator was going to be able sift through the bulls#!& coming from deep-pocketed entities and find the truth.

In fact, I have serious doubts that ANY Senator has a visceral, personal understanding of health care realities for North Carolinians in the middle of the middle-class; business owners, contractors and small business employees. What we average citizens HAVE to do -- just to keep America safe for the middle-classes -- is educate our Senators and Congresspeople when it is so evident that they are off on the wrong track. Sometimes, oftentimes, no matter how "good" they are, they need better advice than they're getting from their legislative assistants, political advisors and lobbyist associates.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Excellent Point

In fact, I have serious doubts that ANY Senator has a visceral, personal understanding of health care realities for North Carolinians in the middle of the middle-class; business owners, contractors and small business employees.

Goes for House members as well.

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

One good thing that came out of the Bush years

was that it provided a wake-up call to "We the People" to get involved in your government and stay aware. The Blue Dogs and Conservative Dems have reinforced that message and kept many progressives active. For that I will thank Hagan.

Yes indeed

This is the first time I can remember so much attention being paid to a committee markup by progressives while the markup was going on.

In my own case, I have David Waldman (Kagro X) of Congress Matters to thank for that.

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

No apologies from me

I'm struck by how quickly a lackluster compromise has been embraced, not just here, but by the media and by progressive bloggers. Maybe it's all we can get, but if that's the case, it's pretty darn sad.

This particular version of a public option leaves millions uncovered, and comes nowhere near achieving the simple, elegant and cost-effective plan that a single-payer solution would offer.

This same drift toward mediocrity happened on the watered down climate-change legislation, resulting in the illusion of a meaningful bill, but mostly continued obeisance to Big Energy.

In my view, this public option fails on two critical counts.

1. It continues to rely in employers to carry the burden of healthcare insurance in America. That's a shortsighted and unsustainable. The structure creates incentives for employers to shift full-time people to part-time positions, which I predict will happen in droves. All one need do is witness that it's already happening among employers who want to avoid paying benefits. This plan will exacerbate that problem. This plan will also accelerate offshoring and outsourcing for employers who wish to dodge the $750 (full time charge) or $375 (part time charge) that comes with dropping their health benefits altogether.

2. It appears not to take advantage of Medicare bargaining power and the Medicare provider network. From my quick reading, providers are not required to participate, which means hospitals and doctors can refuse to take on public option participants. Look for big insurance companies to collude with providers to force public option coverage to the fringes, making it more like public housing than a first-class national healthcare system. Warning from progressives of a "two-tier" system are well on their way to being realized.

Is it better than nothing? I doubt it. In fact, this plan from the HELP committee is little more than a flawed bargaining ship in a sausage-making process that will drift in the direction of protecting the status quo.

I want a Senator who will actually lead on something this important, not be dragged along kicking and screaming into a half-assed compromise.

Not only what you said, but there is more!

Senator Kay Hagan played economist in the State of North Carolina and was a driving force concerning our budgets here. Can anyone remember a really bad budget being sent forward from a NC Senate like, oh, last year? With then NC Senator Kay Hagan touted as the leader? It would seem that Senator Hagan will sign on to a idea when she feels that she has shown her gravitas in lowering the cost of that idea.

Let's talk about what it takes to lower the dollar amount of an idea. You reduce the amount of money being spent on one or many issues, by whatever that original amount may be. Simple.

Now, let's discuss how to trade off money from some issue and place it upon others while reducing some issues to show cost savings. Some lose funding, some gain funding. Same basic idea, right? Original amount is reduced but some issues are reduced a lot, some gain a lot.

Then there is the raise money for funding all issues by increasing income. Or even the raise money for funding a very few issues by increasing income.

Kay is a lower or trade politician (aka fiscally conservative). Raising new income would never occur to her from what I've seen of her budgets here in NC. That is a very disturbing trend, and you can all check it out on the Google. Senator Hagan thinks that by reducing $$ she wins the game. There are many ways to win the game, and by cutting one thing to fund the other isn't always correct.

Senator Hagan needs to take an economics class for the 21st Century. Business spends money to make money. The government can do the same thing, Senator. If they know how, or care to learn how. NEW IDEA's brought forward and tended carefully can raise income, Senator Hagan. I would suggest Kay Hagan get schooled in 21st Century economics and the actual platform of the Democratic Party (National).

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

HCAN Applauds Senator Hagan

HCAN press release:

North Carolina Fair Share and North Carolina ACORN, representing the North Carolina coalition of Health Care for America Now (HCAN) - the nation's largest health care campaign - released the following statement today in response to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee's legislation for health care reform:

Pastor Frank Beard, Chair of the Longview Chapter of Raleigh ACORN, a State Partner Organization of Health Care for America Now, stated: 

We thank Senator Hagan for her support of legislation that will give Americans all across this country what they want - a choice of a strong public health insurance option that will provide lower costs and keep the insurance companies honest. The bill that Senator Hagan will vote for will make sure that Americans can keep their own insurance if they want or choose a new alternative to the private insurance industry.

Lynice Williams, Executive Director of North Carolina Fair Share, also a State Partner Organization of Health Care for America Now, added: 

The new public health insurance option will encourage better health care delivery at lower cost. The legislation will also make good, affordable health care available to middle-class families in North Carolina, and includes strict rules to stop insurance company abuses. The bill is a good prescription for health care reform.

Last week over two hundred (200) HCAN volunteers travelled to Washington, DC from North Carolina as part of a 10,000 person rally and grassroots lobby day. Clearly our voices were heard. Over the coming weeks, NC HCAN will continue to work with Senator Hagan and the entire North Carolina Congressional delegation to be sure that Congress enacts legislation this year that will make sure every family in North Carolina has good, affordable health coverage and lower costs.

in name only

This is a flawed and weak bill that, if passed in its current form even with the assumed finance committee additions, will not have much of a meaningful impact on reforming the problems that currently cripple our nation's health care system.

Everyone should be very proud of their efforts on this matter. They worked. But I hope that in the weeks and months ahead we are all on top of our game and push for a plan that has real bargaining power to force private insurers to lower costs and expands access to quality affordable coverage to EVERYONE, IMMEDIATELY (two aspects missing from this legislation).

Were making sausage here folks

This is just a preliminary bill, no matter what shape it takes in the Senate the bill has to go to conference with the House which has a much stronger piece of legislation.

We now have 60 Dems, many in name only, but it means more pro health care Senators on the conference committee where the final bill will be rewritten.

Bernie Sanders has the right idea, make the Dems vote to over ride any R filibuster. Once we are past that hurdle the horse trading gets easier.

Betsy, don't worry about Jane, she has her agenda and she has no compunction sacrificing others to meet her ends. I was once banned from FDL for questioning the qualifications of one of their writers, I'm back the writer is gone when it turned out he was a fraud.

I hope you're right

The House bill is much stronger, but it'll be a miracle to get 51 Senators to sign on to a robust plan.


PS I agree and was glad to see Sanders' comments about how to use the 60 Democrats, even if some are "in name only." Counting on the block to shut down filibusters is a smart move in every way. It'll be interesting to see whether they can even do that, but I have to say I'm not optimistic.

Thanks, George

She is the least of my worries. I used to spend a lot of time there back in 2005 and am used to her vitriol and "at all costs" approach to achieving her agenda. Remember the black face she put on Joe Lieberman during the Lamont campaign? Anyway...glad we share agendas to some degree, but it is sad to see her sacrificing honesty in these little ways.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It is several acts yet before the fat lady sings

Haywood is right. The final plan should be available to everyone nationwide from day one – no triggers, no co-ops, no gimmicks, no sleights of hand. Much more work ahead. For us.

I'm already wary about how the final sausage might get secretly re-stuffed in conference. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi described the Bush-era conference process as "a special voodoo all unto itself, a monstrously complex bureaucratic maze whose diabolical scheme is known to a select few congressional practitioners." He warns of two aspects that render it easy to monkeywrench behind closed doors:

The first is that the bill can again be completely rewritten here, rewritten from top to bottom, rewritten even so that it has a completely opposite meaning from the bills that passed the two houses – in a word, rewritten in such a fashion as to render the whole process up till now meaningless.

The second is that a majority vote of conference committee members, called “conferees,” is not even required for passage. Again, the conference committee chairs are the key players here. Whatever the top dogs from the House and Senate want generally occurs. They redo the bill according to whatever swinish commercial dynamic happens to govern this back-room deal (for the conference hearings are almost always conducted out of the public eye), then send the final version to a vote, again giving the members just a few hours’ notice before they make an essentially blind decision on the by-now completely revised legislation.

Somewhere along the line, campaign donors apparently figured out that by a careful stewarding of their contributions they could – instead of spending gargantuan sums to buy the wide majority of House and Senate members necessary for an open vote on the floor – instead target those members who could simply rewrite the important parts of the bill in secret.

That should give us all pause. It has me already looking ahead to see who might be on the final House-Senate conference committee.