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Democratic Factions Reaffirm Reform Priorities to Obama

Leaders of two House Democratic caucuses on Thursday reminded President Barack Obama of their health care reform demands in anticipation of his joint address to Congress next week.Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus, asked Obama to meet with them “as soon as possible— to discuss health care reforms on the table and restated that they would oppose any bill that lacks a robust public insurance option.“Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates — not negotiated rates — is unacceptable,— their letter states.Woolsey and Grijalva warn that a plan with negotiated rates “would ensure higher costs for the public plan. … The public plan with set rates saves $75 billion, which could be lost if rates are negotiated with providers. Further, this public option must be available immediately and must not be contingent upon any trigger.—Similarly, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) called on Obama to throw his support behind a public option when he addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. However, unlike the progressives’ letter, Lee stops short of threatening votes against a bill that lacks a public plan.“We are deeply concerned about the current discussions surrounding health care reform and the possibility that current components of the bill — such as a robust public option and myriad health disparity elimination provisions — may be stricken in order to lower its cost to about $500 billion,— Lee says in her letter.The letter, also signed by Congressional Black Caucus Health and Wellness Task Force co-chairs Donna Christensen (D-V.I.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.), also urges Obama to address other reforms. They include the need to support current costs in the House bill, to use health care reform to achieve health equity for all and “strong consideration— of a trigger that will allow savings from prevention to replace current pay-fors.

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