Rep Raul Grijalva Leads Way for Public Option in Health Reform

Rep. Raul Grijalva passed up being chair of the Hispanic Caucus of the House to be Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus

By Comments with article by Tim Wheeler from Rosalio Munoz
Published on LatinoLA: June 11, 2009

Rep Raul Grijalva Leads Way for Public Option in Health Reform


I urge you to read this article by Tim Wheeler, the best DC correspondent I have known for a quarter century. We should back up Raul Grijalva and the Progressive Caucus on health care all the way on this, the right wing kept him off the Cabinet. Ok lets back him up as a national congressional leader and let the President, Pelosi, the Blue Dogs and most important the right wing Republicans and health care monopolies that he is our guy.

Either we the U.S. people ( workers, professionals, community, small business, men and women Latino, African American, Asian Pacifica American, Native American, gltb, young and old, smaller corporations) fight this out and get a public option or the giant global, right wing Republican supporting corporations will get much more traction and solidify their blocking and push to go back to the offensive all across the line, we have to fight like hell with an eye to the 2010 election where all Republicans and blue dogs who cave in are ousted.

This is class struggle in the broadest sense its either freedom from or for giant global corporation domination of our economy and lives. Giant Insurance, Pharma and Finance are not in business for our health we must struggle for our lives depend on it.

'Health care now' fight rages on Capitol Hill

By Tim Wheeler

WASHINGTON -- The fight for universal health care is raging on Capitol Hill with grassroots activists and progressive lawmakers making clear they will not support anything less than reform that provides a strong public option like Medicare.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, June 5, pointing out that the "overwhelming majority" of the 80-member caucus "prefer a single-payer approach" and warning that they will oppose any health care legislation that does not provide a public option.

Said Grijalva, "Americans deserve health care that favors patients over the health insurance companies. They were given decades to control costs, improve quality, and increase access but they have failed. At a minimum, we need to give them real competition in the form of a robust public plan that puts patients first."

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., the caucus's other co-chair, added, "Any legislation passed by Congress must include a robust and affordable public option that is available to every American and that provides coverage on a par with any plan put forth by private insurers. This is not a moment to act cautiously or to hide behind hollow buzzwords or skeletal programs  A competitive public option must be at the heart of this proposal."

The progressive lawmakers also released a nine-point "CPC Principles for a Public Health Care Option," stipulating that it must take effect concurrently with other reforms and not kick in at some future time of crisis -- in other words, that it not be subject to the so-called "trigger" delay mechanism proposed by some.

The public plan must "consist of one entity, operated by the federal government" to keep administrative costs low and provide "a higher standard of care," the principles specify. It must be "available to all individuals and employers across the nation without limitation" and allow patients their choice of doctors and other providers "similar to the traditional Medicare model."

The federal government must provide "a level of subsidy and support that is no less than that received by private plans," the Progressive Caucus principles say.

The government must also "redress historical disparities in underrepresented communities" and provide a "standard package of comprehensive benefits including dental, vision, mental health, and prescription drugs."

Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was the lead-off witness in a hearing June 10 on his "Medicare for All" single-payer health care bill (HR 676) before a subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee. Conyers decried Republican and Democratic lawmakers who have contrived to keep his bill "off the table," adding that two national polls have shown that "universal, single-payer health care reform is the most popular health care system in the minds of most Americans." He asked, "If you keep it off the table, what are you left with?"

Conyers pointed out that single-payer is "not a new idea  every industrialized country around the world has some variation of it except our own."

A day earlier, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., in an interview on CSPAN spoke of his single-payer bill S-703. The private health care system in the U.S., he charged, "is geared to making money for the private insurance companies," not providing quality health care for the people. He decried the $2.3 trillion spent on health care each year, 18 percent of gross domestic product, or more than $8,000 for each man, woman and child. Yet 47 million people are still without health care insurance.

Any scheme to fix the system that leaves the insurance profiteers in control, he charged, "is like pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into a leaky bucket."

Jacki Schechner, media spokesperson for Health Care for America Now, told the World, "We are in full support of a strong public health insurance plan. It is the only way to guarantee coverage, control costs, and insure quality and transparency."

The grassroots movement for health care is mobilizing for a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 25, she said. "We are organizing for what will be the largest health care lobby day ever."

"We will have visits to the offices of more than 300 members of the Senate and House to tell the lawmakers we need quality, affordable health care for all in 2009," Schechner said. "Now is the time for people to step up and tell their senators and representatives we want it done."

Jim Baldridge, a veteran health care worker in Baltimore, said the labor movement is filling buses with union members to attend the rally and lobby day. AFSCME, the Baltimore Central Labor Council and all the coalitions in support of health care reform are mobilizing. "It includes people across the health care reform spectrum whether it be for single-payer or the public option," he said.

About Comments with article by Tim Wheeler from Rosalio Munoz:
Rosalio Munoz has been a progressive activist/writer rooted in East LA since the mid sixties, for 30 years he has been a supporter and contributor to the Peoples Weekly World and thinks Wheeler is best DC reporter.
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