August 24th, 2009


So you want a public health care plan? Do this. Really.

[context, in case you need it] Obama has proposed including a "public option" which would basically be single-payer health care, but coexist with private for-profit insurance. People or employers could choose the public option, just as they could choose any existing private plan. If it turns out to be better than private insurers, they'll either get better to survive, or they'll get smaller and we'll have national single payer, more or less.

So, this post is for those of you who want this public option to happen.

First: We're winning. We're ahead. Press coverage has been very misleading, Collapse )

Despite what it may seem from the news, a public option is >50% likely. On the other hand, it's not anywhere near 100% likely, so it can definitely use your help! And you can easily do some things that'll have a big effect on its chances.

If you're interested, here's what's happening in Congress, and why the actions I recommend below will matter. Or, you can Collapse )

We have two points of pressure to apply:
One: Support the House Progressives who have signed the letter saying they will vote No on any bill without a public option, so they stick to what they've pledged despite all the pressure they're likely to be under to back off.
Two: Try to get the Sneate Finance committee to stall and not pass a bad bill.

A word about supporting the Reps who signed the letter... here's Darcy Burner's plea, paraphrased: "When they do something lobbyists want, they get a big fat check, and a thank-you visit. when they do something we (progressives) want, sometimes they don't even get a single phone call!!" Darcy told me about one Representative who, when he voted against the FISA bill last year with immunity for warrantless wiretapping, got something like 50 thank you phone calls, and about $1200 in small donations. That seems like very little, yet she says he was so excited about it he's still bringing it up now. Remember, these are Reps who want to do that things we want them to do. We don't need to give them more money than the lobbyists do, we just need to validate them in doing what they're already doing because they want to. We need to make them feel that it really is appreciated, so they'll feel confident when under pressure. It only takes a few phone calls, and a few small donations (100 people giving $12 each, for example).

If you want this to happen, do these things this week:

  • Look at this list of House members who signed the letter and if yours is on it, make a quick phone call to say thank you.

  • Even better, if you can, make a small donation - even if it's just $10. And then - this is key - call the Representative to not only thank him/her, but also to say "I just made a small donation to you because you committed to vote No on health care reform if it doesn't have a strong public option." Imagine the effect it'd have on someone, who wants a public option, to know that people gave them money specifically because they said they'd vote this way. How can they back down now?

  • Is your rep not on the list? Donate to some others, and call them and tell them you gave money because of this.

  • Your rep not on the list? Find a Rep on the list whose district has someone you know in it, and get that someone you know to call them and say thank you. Find another, and another, and repeat.

  • Massachusetts people: John Kerry is on the Senate Finance Committee. He wants a public option. Call him and urge him to pledge to vote no in committee on any bill without a strong public option. Literally that: vote no in committee. It'd only take a few Senators to block the compromise from passing, and if the Finance Committee can't produce a bill, then the much better HELP committee bill will become the base bill on the Senate floor. Then theres no need for a fight between the Senate and the House, and we win.

  • Non-MA people: see if your Senator is on the Finance Committee.

  • Sign Democracy for America's petition and DFA/PCCC's advertisement for the public option. DFA is Howard Dean's organization, and his top focus these days is getting a public option passed.

Edit: To find a Senator or Representative's phone number:
- Google their name
- Go to their or web site, and click "contact"
- Call their DC office, the one with a 202 area code. Local offices usually focus on constituent services, DC offices handle legislation.