Hot damn. I can tell you that's about the last thing I expected today.
As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hosted a brief press conference this afternoon and announced that there will, in fact, be a public option in the Senate health care bill, though it will give states the opportunity to opt-out of the plan.
The White House is perfectly happy with Reid's decision. Queen Snowe not so much, but note she didn't absolutely say she'd join a filibuster. Interesting.
Sen. Ben Nelson wanted an opt-in, just cuz we couldn't possibly make it easy for folks to get reform, so we'll see how loud he screams.
This is a pretty big moment, my darlings, and it's time to pat yourselves on the back. The public option wouldn't be here if it weren't for progressives pushing it. Champagne all round.
Then go have a talk with Blanche Lincoln, who still won't commit to standing against a Con filibuster. Spank Ben Nelson for good measure. And cheer on the Dems who are trying to ensure we see some of the benefits of reform before 2013.
It's a banner day, and C&L has an excellent round-up for us.
Elsewhere, the burning stupid still flames:
Eric Cantor wants everybody to do reform over, this time without a public option. I'm not sure which planet he's currently inhabiting.
Health insurance companies are in full-on panic mode, using dumbass talking points in an attempt to get voters to lobby against their own interests. I don't know what they're upset about - aside from the public option, which is fairly weak tea, they got everything they could possibly want. Maybe they're terrified reform means they won't be able to charge women 50% higher premiums just because they're women.
The Cons have at last rolled out some reform proposals of their own!
So much for the champions of Medicare, then, eh?About a month ago, the Washington Post reported, "After years of trying to cut Medicare spending, Republican lawmakers have emerged as champions of the program, accusing Democrats of trying to steal from the elderly to cover the cost of health reform."
Of course, the idea that congressional Republicans could be Medicare's "champions" has always been a little silly, but the notion gets a little more ridiculous all the time.
On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced his own health care reform plan. Broun, one of the most vocal and persistent critics of comprehensive health care reform, calls his legislation the "only true free-market reform alternative." And free-market it is. While most of his legislation mirrors other Republican proposals, Broun's plan for Medicare seems rather revolutionary. He wants to completely get rid of Medicare and replace it with vouchers....
Presumably, seniors would then use their vouchers in the private insurance market.
Unfortunately, since nothing in Broun's OPTION Act deals with the issue of preexisting conditions, insurance companies would deny seniors, who are more likely to have a chronic health problem, left and right.
It's worth noting that while the RNC and congressional Republican leaders have feigned outrage about Democratic efforts to find cost savings in Medicare, no GOP officials in Washington have denounced or distanced themselves from Paul Broun's privatization plan.
Oh, and remember how they keep telling us that all we need in order to reform health care is to let the private companies have their way with us across state lines? Um, yeah, the private companies say that won't exactly work...
Imagine my surprise when Mike Tuffin, Executive Vice President for America’s Health Insurance Plans (an insurance lobby), made the following comment during this exchange on “Fox News Sunday”:
WALLACE: Mr. Tuffin, your group, the AHIP, the American Health Insurance Plans, issued a study and ran some ads opposing one version of health care reform. The White House said some of the data in your study was misleading. Here’s how President Obama reacted generally to the efforts of AHIP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking out their massive war chest. They’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our antitrust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Question: Do you review — do you view that reference to possibly taking away your antitrust exemption as a threat, as punishment, for the fact that you’re opposing the president and Democrats?
TUFFIN: No, we don’t, Chris. That is a very limited federal exemption. It has nothing to do — every analyst who has looked at this has said it has nothing to do with competition or costs.
REALLY? Can we quote you on that? After more than a year of Republicans insisting that all we need to do is repeal their anti-trust exemption and the “free-market” would magically lower prices, the VP of AHIP is telling us that it “has nothing to do with competition or costs.” G.T.K., buddy.
If we can revoke their anti-trust status and hit 'em with a public option, the howls should be sweet music to all our ears.
Hold on tight, my darlings. The next few days should be interesting indeed...