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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Public Option Close to Vote in House [Update]

The Medicare+5 public option is apparently eight votes short of passage in the house according to Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ):

The robust public option is eight votes short of the 218 it needs to pass the House, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) tells HuffPost.

Grijalva, as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been counting support for a public option tied to Medicare rates — the so-called Medicare plus five — over the last few weeks.

“We anticipate that we’re at 210,” he said. “We feel that the momentum is all on the robust Medicare plus five public option.”

Grijalva said that “25-plus” Democrats have said they will vote no. “Some of those no’s are no regardless. It has nothing to do with the public option,” he said, putting the number of those firm no-votes at 18 or 19.

There are 256 Democrats in the House. With 25 or 30 no votes, that leaves only about 15 to 20 members still to decide. Progressives need roughly half of them.

He says that backers of the public option are focusing on those persuadable Democrats rather than negotiating with members who will vote no.

Ryan Grim – Public Option Within Eight Votes Of House Passage, Says Rep. Grijalva Huffington Post 21 Oct 09

If you favour a public option it’s probably time to do a little homework on your local representative and exert some political will if necessary.

This is a stunning opportunity to get the House measure passed, and Speaker Pelosi is looking for some daylight:

Nancy Pelosi is ready to rumble. The House Speaker told her Democratic caucus Tuesday night that she plans to bring a health care reform bill with a robust public option to the House floor for a vote, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tells HuffPost. But first she needs to know that the party is with her.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has been tallying support for a public insurance option tied to Medicare reimbursement rates over the last several weeks. According to people in the room Tuesday night, Pelosi told her members that the caucus is close to the 218 votes needed to pass the bill. She went on to say that the few remaining undecideds – or undeclareds – needed to let Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) know by Wednesday where they stand.

The caucus will meet again Wednesday evening to retake the Democratic temperature. If the 218 votes are there, the party will plow forward and go to conference committee negotiations with a strong hand.

Ryan Grim – Pelosi To Dems: Time To Take A Stand On Public Option Huffington Post 21 Oct 09

Let’s give her a hand.  Dr Howard Dean has provided a website with the tentative whip results for every member of the house here:

In addition to your emails, Democracy for America members and our partners have made calls to Congress and reported back the results to Stand With Dr. Dean. We have compiled the reports from those calls and combed through public statements of every member of Congress. Based on a complete review of your reports and our research, the grid below lists every member of Congress and their basic position on the inclusion of a public healthcare option.

Where Congress Stands Stand with Dr Dean

Check out your representative, you might be surprised that they are a ‘don’t know’ at this late stage in the debate.  If so, email them your thoughts, this can be done directly through the House of Representatives website at Write Your Representative.

Additionally, the Health Care Action Center on Obama’s Organising for America website has a range of connectivity options for getting your message out, including Tweets, telephone contact tools and email and Facebook shares, though it does not specifically mention the public option in any of the boilerplate messages.  OFA, incidentally, has been doing yoeman work in providing a platform for getting the message through with a phone-banking effort which began on Tuesday:

It’s not even noon on the West Coast and already Capitol Hill staffers say they’re getting nonstop calls from constituents in support of President Barack Obama’s health insurance reform. At about 2:15 EST, Organizing for America (OFA) surpassed it’s goal of 100,000 phone calls to Congress, each one imploring representatives to vote for reform.

The nationwide “Time to Deliver on Health Reform” event is the most massive outpouring of support from Obama supporters since Election Day 2008.

Dawn Teo – Congress “Getting Completely Crushed” With Over 100,000 Calls For Obama’s Healthcare Reform Huffington Post 20 Oct 09

Since then the number has exceeded 300,000, three times the target.  We are not alone.

[Update:] From The Hill today:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) drive for a public option in healthcare reform ran into turbulence Thursday when a survey of her caucus showed she needs more votes to pass such a bill.

The survey ordered by Pelosi turned up 46 Democrats who said they would vote against the so-called “robust” public option, according to a Democratic lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mike Soraghan – Whip count shows Democrats lack votes on ‘robust’ public option for healthcare The Hill 22 Oct 09

It is hard to believe that some of these Democrats oppose the legislation due to concerns that it is not single payer, about the income surtax it would impose on the wealthy or the fear it would subsidise abortion.  You gotta’ wonder sometimes.

Representative Weiner points out that as the numbers approach 218 lots of representatives get a bit precious about the power of their votes.  Sigh.  It was ever thus.  Worth reading the article and ringing the holdouts mentioned if they’re yours.

Crossposted at MyDD


  1. fogiv

    …do a little homework on your local representative and exert some political will if necessary.

    Lots of ‘hopey’ news on the health car reform front of late.  Feeling better and better about the odd for meaningful reform and a decent public option.

  2. Shaun Appleby

    From Politico:

    Pelosi has been considering three options, including the one she plans to include in the House bill. The other two options are considered more palatable to moderates in her party – one in which doctors can negotiate fees directly with the government and another with a “trigger” that would impose the Medicare-plus-five rate if the negotiated rates didn’t save enough money.

    But moderate and conservative Democrats – including the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs – have raised strong objections to the robust public option in the past, meaning Pelosi will face a struggle to rally support behind it in the final bill.

    Patrick O’Conner – Pelosi pushes strong public option Politico 21 Oct 09

    Wouldn’t passing this change tip the scales a bit?  I reckon it would.

  3. doesn’t make any sense. Setting up a network takes a lot of time and money. Medicare already has a network of providers. Why would they refuse a fresh source of revenue that will be paid at higher rates? I could see it even higher than +5. Medicare already beats private insurers more than that. Make it +7. The new pool of people will be healthier on average than the current Medicare members. They should be cheaper to insure.

    This would be the second best option. The best option is opening Medicare to everyone. Charge premiums that cover payments. Anyone purchasing insurance on the open market would be able to join.

    Simpler, quicker, and cheaper than anything so far offered. And the one thing most likely to “bend the curve”.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    Speaker Pelosi isn’t giving up but the outcome hangs in the balance:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scrambling to push back the notion she lacks the votes for a “robust” public option.

    Pelosi (D-Calif.) called an emergency meeting of her caucus Friday morning to declare that she has not abandoned the push for including that provision in a healthcare bill.


    At Friday’s caucus meeting, leaders took a roll call of those members in attendance – 196 of the 256 House Democrats – on a single question: Do you support a robust public option?

    A member supportive of a robust public option said there was “overwhelming support” for a “Medicare plus 5 percent” public option among those members in attendance.

    But this member also said that the votes of as many as 50 of the 60 absent members could still be up in the air.

    Jared Allen and Molly K Hooper – Pelosi calls an emergency meeting on push for ‘robust’ public option The Hill 23 Oct 09

    Exciting stuff.  Giving the moves Reid is considering in the Senate it appears the ‘public’ option is far from dead, robust or not.  This strikes me as our best chance to affect the conference between the House and Senate bills in favour of a strong public option.

  5. POLITICO Breaking News:


    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will announce this afternoon that he plans to push ahead with a public option vote on health care reform that includes an opt-out provision for states, sources tell POLITICO.

    I don’t suppose there will be any crow-eating among the mouth-breathing hyperactive doom-sayers on certain blogs?

  6. POLITICO Breaking News:


    Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) says he will join a Republican filibuster against the Senate Democrats’ health care reform bill unless the public option is removed.

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