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November 12th, 2009
Grijalva Announces Readiness to Fight Triggers, Opt-Out in Senate Health Bill

Washington, DC — Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today announced his determination to fight against any upcoming health care legislation that further damages an already weakened public health insurance option.

Grijalva said that as the Senate takes up a final reform bill, a public plan should be offered without conditions to Americans in every state similar to the version approved in the House on Saturday.

“The House vote was a significant step, but much more work remains to be done,” said Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Now the fight becomes about what kind of public option will survive. It will be very difficult for me to support a product that puts too many roadblocks in the way of broad public participation.”

Grijalva said any insurance program based on a trigger would fail, and should not be viewed as a serious alternative to meaningful health care reform.

“The trigger concept widely discussed in the Senate is a back-door attempt to kill the public option and confuse voters,” Grijalva said. “The trigger is designed never to be pulled because its conditions will never be met. Besides, as millions of Americans can attest, there is no time to wait – a public option must be available as soon as possible to compete with private plans. A public option trigger cannot pass the House and will be fought by united voices around the country until it is defeated.”

Grijalva offered similar criticisms of the opt-out language being floated in Senate debates. The proposed language would allow states to voluntarily deny citizens access to the public option, even if it is available elsewhere.

“No state should be able to restrict the health care choices available to its own people,” Grijalva said. “Anyone concerned about government overreach should look to the opt-out clause as a potentially serious setback. There is no reason to support opt-out as a policy matter, and it would be politically disastrous to give state legislatures the power to block access in the name of partisanship. As we seek to expand choice and opportunity to tens of millions of uninsured voters, we must not create the potential for ideological casualties along the way.”

Grijalva also said he would work tirelessly to have the last-minute House amendment barring insurance coverage of reproductive services stripped from any future version before it is sent to the president.

“The Stupak-Pitts amendment represents an unprecedented federal intrusion into the operations of strictly private insurance plans,” Grijalva said. “I will join with many others in fighting to strip it during conference negotiations.”

As the debate shifts to the Senate, Grijalva said, “we should all remember that we are on the verge of a historic improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans. To trade away this opportunity for short-term political considerations would not only be unfortunate, it would be terribly irresponsible of us as legislators. We were elected to do the people’s business, and after months of tough negotiations, the House has done so. The Senate must show its own leadership as we near the end of this process.”

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