House Dems. step up to deliver on real health care reform — and they’re ready to rumble with the Senate

Last night, it became even more clear that leading Democratic Senators are on the path to undermining real health care reform while doing the insurance industry’s bidding. Max Baucus from Montana is the leader of that pack.

But, today, leading House Democrats introduced a real reform package — and basically issued a challenge to the Senate. Ryan Grim reports:

Henry Waxman, Charlie Rangel and George Miller, chairs of the Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means and Education & Labor Committees, announced the result of six months of negotiations. The sight of three united committee chairmen in the turf-conscious House is a historically rare one.

Where the Senate Finance Committee’s outline of a bill didn’t include a public health insurance option for people to buy into, the House version includes a robust public plan that would operate nationally and compete with private insurers on a level playing field to keep them honest.

The public plan would be self-sustaining and not subsidized by the federal government, although an upfront infusion of capital would be needed. It would initially be tied to Medicare reimbursement rates, to capitalize on the existing infrastructure, but would evolve into a separate plan that paid higher rates. Participation by doctors would be voluntary.

Rangel described the public plan as “the best of Medicaid, best of Medicare, then kick it up a notch.” The chairmen estimated the plan would cover 95 percent of Americans.

While the Senate has cowered from the debate over a public option in the face of Republican and conservative Democratic opposition, Rangel said he relishes the battle.

“I’m anxious to take on those people who oppose a public option,” he said. He’ll have public opinion on his side. A recent poll showed 3 out of 4 people want a public plan as part of health care reform. “We’ve got the momentum.”

This is more like it. Now, the best thing would be for the White House to join with the House Democrats and push the best possible plan — even if it means no GOP support. In years to come, this will be known as the “Obama Health Care Reform Law” not, the “Obama and a couple of Republicans Health Care Reform Law.” This is his legacy — and his staff is screwing it up. For example, Jim Messina is going to have to put the interests of his current boss, the president, ahead of the interests of his old boss, Max Baucus.

A lot of us are ready to talk on those people who oppose a public option. We just need to make sure the White House doesn’t throw us all under the bus.

Also, this week, the biggest tool in political punditry, Mark Halperin, said health care reform would fail because “most journalists” still have insurance. Of course, it’s all about self-interest for him and this comment encapsulates the thinking of the Villagers. No doubt, loathsome Halperin has been so ensconced in his self-absorbed bubble that he hasn’t realized the world of journalism is collapsing around him. So, Mark Halperin shouldn’t get too cocky. Journalism isn’t the most stable profession these days. Halperin and his ilk aren’t the gatekeepers they used to be. Thank god.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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