October 29, 2009

October 28, 2009 MSNBC The ED Show

From Kucinich's office today: State Single Payer Cannot Be Ignored

Washington, Oct 29 -Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement after House Leadership announced the latest version of health care reform:

“Today, advocates of true health care reform were disappointed to learn that the Kucinich amendment was removed from the latest version of the health care reform bill. At the end of the day, states may be given the option to opt out, but won’t be allowed to opt into a proven system that provides all of a state’s residents with better health care.

“Many states are demanding single payer. Not only does it help people stay out of poverty and provide health care for all, but it would provide major relief for states facing budget difficulties. The Lewin Group’s financial analysis of the California single payer bill that passed the legislature twice found that “the net cost of the program to state and local governments is a savings of about $900 million” in 2006 alone. There are also strong single payer movements in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Colorado, and New Mexico.

“If a state wants better health care than can be provided by the federal government in the health care bill we are seeing today, the federal government should not stand in their way. The removal of the Kucinich amendment constitutes yet another capitulation to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries who are already reaping billions of dollars from the bill.

The Kucinich amendment had been added to HR 3200 in a 27-19 bipartisan vote in the Education and Labor Committee.

Transcript from MSNBC below the fold.

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, that's the time. That's when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders will unveil the House health care bill. I can't wait. But it probably won't have a robust public option. Doesn't make me happy.

We have 256 Democrats in the House, but we can't find 218 votes for it? Progressives are furious. Some are saying they won't vote. They will not note for a watered down bill. I can't believe we're having this conversation right now.

Universal health care is the cornerstone of the Democratic party platform. Now, I think Congressman Dennis Kucinich has it right. He issued this challenge to his fellow House Democrats today: quote, "if this is the best we can do, then it's time to ask ourselves whether the two-party system is truly capable of representing the American people or whether the system has been so compromised by special interests that we can't even protect the health of our own people."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former presidential candidate joins us here on THE ED SHOW tonight. Congressman, what are you saying with that statement? Is it time to break away from the Democratic party on this one issue, on health care? Are you ready to make that move?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: It's time for all of us to redouble our efforts to insist that we take a stand for a robust public option. That's the least we can do. Many of us started with a single payer proposal. And, of course, I've tried to get in the bill a guarantee that every state would be able to have a single-payer option. That's been taken out of the bill.

Now we're left with this negotiated rates, which, by the time they get through a conference committee, will end up being a trigger, which ends up being a total capitulation to the insurance industry. Democrats ought to take a stand. What are we here for?

SCHULTZ: Well, you have rural conservative Democrats out there who want these negotiated rates, and they want the power to go to the states, and want 50 different associations. You say that's a victory for the insurance industry. You couldn't go along with that. Would you vote against that?

KUCINICH: I have great trouble voting for anything other than a robust public option because that saves money. It provides more health care for more people. Otherwise, what we're looking at, Ed, is we're looking at the poor having to pay more, we're looking at the government having to pay more. This ends up being a larger bailout to the insurance industry. I don't think that's what Democrats should stand for. I'm hopeful that even in this-at this late moment, that the leadership will calculate again, take that count again, and be willing to roll the dice and take a stand to see if you can get 218 Democrats to stand for a robust public option.

SCHULTZ: What role does the president of the United States play in this, in your opinion, right now? Is this the time for him to step up? If tomorrow at 10:00, and we're hearing it's not going to be a robust public option, what the heck did we work for Obama for? I have to ask that question. How do you feel about that?

KUCINICH: First, this starts with a Congressional process. It would help if the president made a statement on this, of course. We can't get away from our responsibility as members of Congress who have pledged to deliver health care to the American people. And we have to make sure it's health care, not insurance care. We have to make sure that the American people know that we want everyone covered with the best plan we can possibly have. And, frankly, I think that we're selling ourselves short by not going forward with a robust public option.

SCHULTZ: OK. Congressman, I want to be very clear tonight. Do you think that there are liberals in the House that will say no to any kind of reform unless it has the kind of public option they want? I'm talking about you and Lynn Woolsey and maybe even Congressman Weiner from New York. I mean, there are staunch lefties there that have worked hard for health care reform. If you don't get a robust public option, would you vote against the bill? Do you think there will be maybe 30 or 40 that could screw this whole thing up?

KUCINICH: We're not talking about screwing it up, but talking about unscrewing it, to make sure that the insurance companies are not going to raid the American tax payers coffers. I want to see how this bill reads tomorrow. Then tomorrow, I'll be able to give you an assessment as to how I'm going to vote.

SCHULTZ: OK. We may be calling you tomorrow. I think, you know, you've been a solid voice on this all along. Congressman, appreciate your time.

KUCINICH: Thank you very much, Ed Schultz.

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