Congressman Scott Murphy just signed on to a letter urging Harry Reid to consider including a public option.
As the Senate continues to work on health reform legislation, we strongly urge you to consider including a public option.
Here are the reasons for this request:
1) The public option is overwhelmingly popular.
A December New York Times poll shows that, despite the attacks of recent months, the American public supports the public option 59% to 29%. And a recent Research 2000 poll found 82% of people who supported President Obama in 2008 and Scott Brown for Senate last week also support the public option. Only 32% of this key constituency is in favor of the current Senate bill – with more saying it “doesn’t go far enough” rather than it “goes too far.”
Support for health care legislation started to fall as popular provisions like the public option were stripped out and affordability standards were watered down. The American people want us to fight for them and against special interests like the insurance industry, and it is our responsibility to show them that their voices are being heard.
2) The public option will save billions for taxpayers, speaking to the fiscally-responsible sensibilities of our constituents.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the public option will save taxpayers anywhere from $25 billion to $110 billion and will save billions more when private insurers compete to bring down premium costs. The stronger the public option, the more money it saves.
By including the public option, we can simultaneously reduce tax increases and the deficit. This is a common-sense way to temper the frustration of Americans who question whether Congress is spending their money wisely and fighting for the middle class.
3) There is strong support in the Senate for a popular public option.
It is very likely that the public option could have passed the Senate, if brought up under majority-vote “budget reconciliation” rules. While there were valid reasons stated for not using reconciliation before, especially given that some important provisions of health care reform wouldn’t qualify under the reconciliation rules, those reasons no longer exist. The public option would clearly qualify as budget-related under reconciliation, and with the majority support it has garnered in the Senate, it should be included in any healthcare reform legislation that moves under reconciliation.
As Democrats forge “the path forward” on health care, we believe that passing the public option through reconciliation should be part of that path. We urge you to favorably consider our request to include a public option in the reconciliation process.