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Members of the House of Representatives' Progressive Caucus declared at a press conference outside the Capitol July 30 they will vote against a health care reform bill that does not have a "robust" public option. Progressives pushed back against conservatives in both parties who have been attempting to slow down and water down health care reform. When the press conference was held, 53 members of the House, a larger contingent than the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, had signed a letter that drew the line against efforts to weaken the public option.
The letter said, in part:
We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members ofthe Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards. Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates -not negotiated rates -is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of"keeping insurance companies honest," and their rates down.
To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members ofthe Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies to low-and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion oftheir income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal costs.
In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.
We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.
The next day, the House Energy and Commerce Committee agreed on a compromise that addressed some of the objections of progressives.