The Bennet Letter

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado today stood up for the American people and wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to bring the public insurance option back up for a vote and to pass it via the reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes. The Bennet letter was co-signed by Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

The four Senators, all Democrats, cite that they support a public option plan for four reasons: the cost savings the public option is estimated to achieve, continued public support for the public option, the need for increased competition in the insurance market and the Senate's history of using the reconciliation process for health care reform. The letter points out that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) were all enacted under reconciliation.

"Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it," the letter stated. "The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market — both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices. A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules."

"Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system," the letter says. "Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it."

More from Politico:

Bennet took the lead in the Senate to round up co-signers for the letter, which was spearheaded by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and Credo Action. A similar effort in the House netted 119 signers to a letter.

The senators have made the calculation that the public option is popular with Democrats, and the absence of one in the final bill is one reason that voters are unenthusiastic about it.

When the public option was still on the table, proponents in the Senate thought a majority of the Democratic caucus would vote it, making the inclusion of one in a bill passed through reconciliation a mathematical possibility.

The letter was spearheaded by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Democracy for America, and Credo Action. Late today they issued a joint statement:

"This is a historic moment in the fight to give Americans the choice of a public option and senators Bennet, Gillibrand, Merkley, and Brown deserve immense praise for their leadership. Every day, it becomes increasingly clear that the best way to 'fix' the original Senate bill is to pass the highly popular public option through reconciliation. It's the populist reform that the House will need to pass both bills together and the key change Democratic and Independent voters will need in order to believe in health care reform again and show up in 2010."

Tags: Public Option, US Healthcare Reform, Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Sherrod Brown (all tags)



it's a good effort

but I have lost hope of anything good coming out of this Congress on health care. If 50 Democratic senators really wanted to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill, Reid would have started working on the reconciliation approach a long time ago.

Obama clearly isn't concerned about getting a public option either--not even the very weak version approved by the Senate HELP committee.

by desmoinesdem 2010-02-16 06:52PM | 0 recs
Lost hope?

Seriously? Do I need to remind you yet again?

by QTG 2010-02-16 07:00PM | 1 recs
LOL Lost hope

Seriously. I'd hate to have to go into battle with some of these democrats.

Great minds, weak spines.

That said. Does anyone have any idea about where the whip count stands for a PO through reconciliation? Close to 50? Or down around 35.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-16 10:16PM | 0 recs
RE: LOL Lost hope

It's probably close enough to get liberals all excited, but not close enough to ensure passage resulting in more hand-wringing and intra-party fighting and bickering!

Good Times!

by vecky 2010-02-17 02:05AM | 0 recs

Waste of time and effort .

Primary battle gimmick for Bennet and Gillibrand...

If democrats pass this corrupt healthcare bill that has been rejected by the public through reconciliation , the midterms would be a blowout...

Talk about being tone deaf , they claim support from the public for the public option , when support for the whole process and the healthcare bill has collapsed for the better part of nearly a year...

The only chance of any reform is an incremental process that has some bipartisan support . The Trillion dollar bill wont fly with taxpayers...


by lori 2010-02-16 07:07PM | 1 recs

I dunnno, I support a vote on PO, at least let's get our congressmen on record. It dosn't even have to be a part of the C HCR bill, maybe as a seperate statute. The last vote we got on the PO was during the SFC committee hearings. I doubt things have moved very much since then but hey, no harm in trying.

by vecky 2010-02-16 07:19PM | 0 recs

BTW, what is so "corrupt" about the HCR bill? While the NE compromise might have been unfair to other states the money for NE went to the citizens of that state not to Nelsons personal bank account or interest group. So specifics pls...

by vecky 2010-02-16 07:23PM | 0 recs

Buying off Nelson , Landreiu , labour unions , all sorts of deals to get votes and backing for the bill . The whole process has corrupted the product ....

Some democrats are still entertaining the idea of using reconcialition to pass a bill that has been rejected by the public , someone needs to save them from themselves....

by lori 2010-02-16 07:31PM | 0 recs

Nelson Ne deal I have addressed, Landrieu secured funding for medicaid, which came at the request of the the state Governor. There was no deal for Unions in the bill, one was rumored latter but nothing came of it. You've got to do better than that....

by vecky 2010-02-16 08:02PM | 1 recs
The public

will regret rejecting this bill when it passes. I'm sure of it.

I don't give a damn what the public wants. They constantly prove they don't know what's good for them. Remember Iraq?

by ND22 2010-02-16 08:29PM | 0 recs


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