Thursday, November 19, 2009

Real Health Reform: Positions for Progressives

What Now

It has been both an exhilarating time for progressives and a bumpy one: the House passed a bill (yay) with a public option (yay). These are victories for progressives, inside and outside of Congress: we made this happen.

But House leaders caved at the last minute to an anti-abortion spoiler, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, and dropped a popular provision proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to protect states that opt for single payer systems from lawsuits under ERISA.

Many of us who both support and desperately need health reform are still trying to make sense of the news of the last week. Advocates and the public need to be unified and energized for the final push to get the best possible bill through the Senate and back through the conference committee with the House.

Here’s what we think all Senators need to hear, and why:

1. The House bill is a major achievement. Preserve and expand on its strong points, including the public option.
There is a lot here for access, quality, affordability and cost control, in fact more than there was in any of the bills that passed through the House Committees. The public option is likely to be more robust than the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary projection.

2. We need to advance reproductive rights, not retreat.
The anti-abortion amendment is a real threat and a wake-up call.
We can beat it. Many members who voted “yes” on Stupak are on record as pro-choice.
Pro-choice energy can propel reform forward.

3. Protect single payer states from ERISA lawsuits.
It is important to continue to point this out and to organize for single payer, and against the for-profit private insurance industry States will be a far cry further in the march toward single payer if we can win waivers from federal obstacles including ERISA.

The House is still in play; they will be involved in the conference with the Senate, and will vote again on final passage. Our messages to House members depends on how they voted. (See Tables on p. 8):

1. Voted Yes on the bill and No on the Stupak Amendment (178 Democrats): Thank you! You’re the progressive Democratic majority. Help us win the ERISA waiver, and keep what we’ve won.
2. Voted Yes on the bill and Yes on Stupak: Stick with the bill and stick up for women. [For those historically pro-choice: Shame on you for voting Yes on Stupak]
3. Voted No on the bill and No on Stupak: Thanks for opposing Stupak. I’m asking you to stand up for health care reform now and support the bill.
4. Voted No on the bill and Yes on Stupak: We need health care reform now, and need our member of Congress to stick up for women. Will you change your vote and stand up for health reform and for women? [For those historically pro-choice: Shame on you for voting Yes on Stupak]

(for full statement and to see how Menbers voted go to:

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