Key House Progressive: This Public Option Compromise Stinks

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December 9, 2009 10:57 a.m.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, isn’t pleased with the public option rumblings she’s heard out of the Senate, and suggests that, unless the final product has the same impact as a public option, her Caucus could reject it.

“I am looking at, Where’s the competition in this compromise?” Woolsey told me today. “Are we offering competition to the private insurance providers? I don’t see where that is. That’s what the public option was all about was having competition so that premiums don’t spike.”

“We have 30 million new customers for the insurance industry, and what, we don’t let them choose an option that would be less expensive?” she said incredulously.

Woolsey said the Medicare buy-in plan is a good one, though too limited.It’s, “a great idea,” she told me, “I would love Medicare for all.”

But she worries that the people the buy-in is meant to help might still be blocked out, “Are we providing subsidies for those individuals?” she asked. “Can they afford it?”

Woolsey insisted that the House won’t simply swallow what the Senate passes–there will be a conference committee between the two chambers, and a deal will have to emerge that pleases both bodies.

“It doesn’t come back to the House like that,” she said. “It’ll go to conference.”

“We need to know exactly what the compromise is. I’ve already heard that some of the people who [negotiated it] don’t support it, so who knows…. When we know that, we will be taking our position.”

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