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June 8th, 2009
Congressional Progressive Caucus Lays Out Criteria for Public Option, Vow to oppose healthcare legislation that does not provide robust and affordable public plan

Washington, DC—Representative Raúl M. Grijalva joined with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in sending Speaker Nancy Pelosi principles stating that the final health care reform bill must contain a public option in the event that a single payer plan is not enacted.

Grijalva, a Co-Chair of the CPC, stands united with the CPC in calling for a guarantee of coverage, high-quality and accessible healthcare, and lower costs – regardless of income, health status, race, employment, or gender. The principles also state the CPC’s strong opposition to any conditions or triggers that might limit the availability of the public plan.

Grijalva released the following statement:

“Americans deserve health care that favors patients over the health insurance companies. The companies were given decades to control costs, improve quality and increase access, but they have failed. At a minimum, we need to give them real competition in the form of a robust public plan that puts patients first.

“The recent discussion that a public option will occur after conditions set forth by the private industry – also referred to as a ‘trigger’ – is an insult to the American people. This delay in implementing a public option would force undue hardship on those who are waiting for healthcare.

“We have a working example in Medicare D of what legislating a ‘trigger’ can do. This has only given greater subsidies to the pharmaceutical companies and delayed improved services for the consumers, the American people.

“We have already endured skyrocketing prices, denial of care, soaring premiums, and elimination of choice of health plans. Working poor, middle class, teachers, students, children, seniors, and families can no longer afford a delay in affordable, quality and robust healthcare. I stand committed, with the Progressive Caucus, to make sure this health care reform puts the customer first. And makes sure that the public option offered occurs concurrently with significant expansions of coverage without conditions.”

The CPC sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlining the public option principles. The drafting of the public option principles were led by the CPC health taskforce co-chairs Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).

Last month the CPC met with House Leadership and recommended U.S. Representatives Dr. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) to represent the CPC and help draft comprehensive health care reform legislation. The principles sent today will be the outline on which they will negotiate on behalf of the CPC for the most robust public plan.

On April 2, the CPC sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating that a majority of its members would oppose any legislation that did not include a public option. That was followed up on April 24th with an unprecedented letter to President Obama and the Democratic Leadership of the House and Senate from the leaders of four prominent caucuses consisting of 120 Members– the CPC plus the Black Caucus (CBC), the Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) stressing that the support for health care reform must require a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.

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