Progressive senators are calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use reconciliation to end the health care reform deadlock. In a letter co-signed by Sens. Mike Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today, the group calls on Reid to use reconciliation to pass health care reform with a public option attached.
“Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it,” the senators write. “The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market — both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices.”The senators who signed the letter offer four reasons why Reid should use reconciliation to pass a public option now.
First, they say a public option will be more fiscally responsible than the bill that was passed out of the Senate. “Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system,” they write.
Other reasons include increasing competition in the health care marketplace and the “strong public support for a public option, across party lines.”
On the subject of reconciliation, the senators write that the process has been used in the past to pass health care programs in a partisan environment.
“The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which actually contains the term ‘reconciliation’ in its title, were all enacted under reconciliation,” they write.
A version of the letter’s full text appears on the Progressive Change Campaign Committee Website.
Reid spokesperson Jim Manley gave TPMDC this response to the letter: “We are continuing to work with the house and the white house to pass the strongest bill possible.”
Additional reporting by Christina Bellantoni