Friday, October 16, 2009

Who's Doing What on Health Care: The Left

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
Trying to decide whether he actually wants to, you know, lead the Senate majority party. If Reid did his job, 60 Democratic votes in the Senate would deliver a robust public health insurance option, and we would all sail off into the sunset. Since 2006, he's begged for the American people to give him a filibuster-busting 60 Democratic Senators. Now he's got them. So what's he waiting for?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Speaking for and leading the House majority party. Pelosi has made it clear that the House version of the health bill will have a strong public option. Thanks largely to her and House progressives, there isn't much doubt about this.

House Progressive Caucus:
Being awesome. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and his bunch have been saying (since before it was cool!) that they will vote against any health reform bill that does not include the public option. The House Progressives are the legislative foundation for the public option movement. Their outspokenness has meant that Pelosi can lead with backbone.

Senate Progressives:
Opening up a new front in the battle. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pat Leahy (D-VT) are calling for an amendment to the Senate health bill that would remove the antitrust exemption for the insurance industry. Even Harry Reid is jumping in on this! Given that 94% of insurance markets are "highly concentrated," it should be easy to find support for this. And it will give the corporation lords something to fear in addition to the public option.

The White House:
Helping to shape the Senate's final bill, hopefully arm twisting. During the whole process, the White House has been happy to let Congress take the lead. Now that the Senate Health Committee and Finance Committee have each passed versions of the bill, it's time to merge the two together into the final bill that the whole Senate will vote on. This is being done in closed-door meetings with leaders from both committees, Harry Reid's office, and White House staffers. Will the White House insist that the final version contains the public option? They better.

The American Labor Movement:
Holding the freaking line. The AFL-CIO placed full-page ads in major newspapers calling the version of the bill (without a public option) approved this week by the Senate Finance Committee "deeply flawed," saying, "A public health plan is essential for reform." The new AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka has talked tough, promising "a labor movement that stands by its friends, punishes its enemies, and challenges those who can't decide whose side their on."

Grassroots Progressive Organizations:
Taking the battle to the streets and to corporate HQ. MoveOn.org is helping Dawn Smith, for whom CIGNA has denied treatment for her brain tumor, to get a meeting with CIGNA's CEO. Health Care for America Now has led peaceful blockades of CIGNA and United Health Care headquarters, resulting in the arrest of dozens of activists.

2 comments:

Mason said...

Health reform bill or not, the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption should be repealed. It's been on the books since before any of these dudes even came to office. It allows insurance companies for ANY kind of insurance to essentially collude and set prices. I'm hopeful, but not expecting. Can a fella get some LEADERSHIP?

Elizabeth said...

I would be ok seeing Harry Reid no longer be Senate Majority leader. But then, that's me.

You should add a section on "the people." I was reading the other day that support is up, both for Obama and for reform. I'm tired of hearing that the Beltway Bandits are ignoring the will of the people.