So we've had a new letter being sent to the White House by 30 U.S. Senators saying that they want a public option. And Specter and Difi signed on to it. No, really.
Taking a page from the strong House Progressive Block pushing a robust public option, Roll Call reports that thirty Senate Dems have written to Harry Reid, demanding a public option...This is a key development as the negotiations between Reid, Baucus, Dodd and the White House to merge the Senate HELP and Finance bills begin.
Moving parts and trial balloons are flying all over the place. We are speculating at this point because we aren't at the negotiating table, but the newest one is to include a public option in the Senate bill, but allow states to opt out if they don't like it.
Paul Krugman kind of likes the idea.
So the new idea seems to be a public option offered at a national level, but with states having the right to opt out — that is, make it not available to their own residents. At first blush, that sounds good.
It’s true that the states most likely to opt out will probably be small states that really need the competition. But many states, with probably a majority of the population, would opt in. And if the public option works well, there will soon be pressure on politicians in the others to do the same.
Howard Dean also thinks it's a good idea. Dean: If I Were A Senator I'd Vote For Opt-Out Public Option
In a brief telephone interview, Dean stressed repeatedly that his preference remained, far and away, a national public option that was available to anyone -- regardless of state -- from the day of its conception. But in a wholly political context, he acknowledged, adding the opt-out option to the bill might be the best and only way to get something through the Senate.
"I would like to see that come out of the Senate because it is a real public plan," he said of the opt-out compromise. "Then they can negotiate it [with the House] in conference committee... And if this passes I won't say it is not reform because it is reform."
"If this is what it takes to get 60 votes I say go for it," said Dean
I'm still digesting this, but the fact that the public option is still being talked about in such an intense way suggests that all our (blogosphere, activists, liberals in Congress, etc..) efforts have been really helping and I feel more positive than I did before. It's just a feeling at this point, of course...
I've been talking to Digby and other activists about the problem Obama faces because his plan won't hit the streets for anther 3-4 years and America wouldn't see any tangible evidence that the health care reform had a positive affect on their lives. It is a big problem because a lot of people can't afford to wait the necessary time it would take to implement a massive project like health reform.
Digby remembers something Howard Dean said and this makes a ton of sense.
Dean has been talking about this problem too, and his solution is even better:
To address that problem, Dean said Democrats need to do something that will have tangible results by next summer. His proposal: opening up Medicare to people over the age of 50 so that a "certain mass" of people will already have benefited from health reform by the elections. "You need to have people sign up for this program by July 2010," Dean said.
I've heard this before but it never seems to go anywhere. I'd be first in line to sign up for that plan. Even if it is eventually phased out, it would be worth doing right now. The people my age -- and they are a huge group -- are in real trouble with the current economic mess. They've lost their retirement nest eggs, their property values are in the dirt and their health care costs are insane. This would be very, very helpful.
This is a great idea.