‘Blue Dogs’ stand in circle, pull ‘trigger’ over health care option

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The 50 or so moderate/conservative House Democrats called Blue Dogs announced last week that they all support the health insurance industry’s proposal to essentially kill any option to private health insurance. The Blue Dog "plan" was little more a cut-and-paste of insurance industry desires. But the backlash was fast, and not-so-united Blue Dogs started backing way, way off from the group’s position.

The specific issiue is called, in Washington jargon, a "trigger." As in, we’d be offered a low-cost Medicare-like option to for-profit insurers only if they failed a bunch of industry-friendly benchmarks in, oh, seven or 10 years. It would never happen.

So some key members of the Blue Dogs pulled their own trigger announcing that they support a public option now–and never have, never will support the insurers’ "trigger" thing.

They include:

Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, who is vice-chair of the Blue Dog Health Reform task force, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, and Rep. Jane Harman of California.

Interestingly, these three come from some of the most conservative districts held by Democrats. It could be they grasp how much most Americans dislike insurance companies, and how much they favor having a public plan that competes with their administrative bloat and focus on profit. A recent poll by Lake Research shows that 73% of Americans want a public insurance option to compete with the current insurance system, and that includes 63% of Republicans

Those numbers tell us how loud the insurance lobby is in Washington. If public policy matched public need, there wouldn’t even be an argument about a public option. In fact, if it were just about what Americans want, a Washington Post-ABC poll back in 2003 showed 62% for universal insurance under Medicare, with 33% support for the current system.

Consumer Watchdog
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