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Thanks, Harry! Now Let’s Push Harder


Damn liberals are never satisfied . . .
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Photo by Luke Sharrett/New York Times.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Photo by Luke Sharrett/New York Times.

Encouraged but not satisfied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement yesterday of the inclusion of an opt-out version of a public option in the Senate health reform bill that he will bring to a vote, we sent the following letter to say Thank You and Give Us More. (We wanted to say “Give ’em hell, Harry,” but that doesn’t feel quite right, even though Reid’s a former boxer.)

Senator Reid’s WDC office phone # is 202-224-3542 and his fax # is 202-224-7327. For good measure, we’ve also faxed to his regional offices in Nevada: Carson City: 775-883-1980; Las Vegas: 702-388-5030; Reno: 775-686-5757. See our Political Action page for more contact information.

And before you read the letter to Senator Reid, check out this table of Uninsured by State 2005–2008 as tabulated by the U.S. Census Bureau. Activists, use this to remind/inform senators of the number of uninsured people in their state. No state comes out looking good, except maybe Massachusetts. Louisiana’s uninsured as of 2008 = 869,000, or 20.1 percent.

October 27, 2009

Dear Honorable Senator Reid:

Thank you for holding firm with the public’s wish for a public option. The Finance/HELP bill you’ve announced is certainly better than what we feared might happen—and we thank you—but we still want very much the stronger, more generous public options proposed by Senators Wyden, Rockefeller, and Schumer. The version that is being sent to a vote will only apply to the unemployed (disturbingly, 10% of American adults). Ten percent of the market is not going to hold private insurers accountable. What about the millions who are “insured” but unsatisfied with (or abused by) their private policy? The broken system we have now is widely abusive even for those who have coverage—both the individuals and the employers who are struggling to pay the escalating premiums or being driven into bankruptcy. Is this really the best reform that 60 Senate Democrats can offer?

Senator Reid, what we really want is a single-payer system. If we can’t have that, then let all Americans under 65 choose Medicare if we want it—proven, cost-effective coverage that can’t be taken away—with reimbursement based on Medicare rates, not negotiated rates, as urged by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Expanded access to Medicare will give quickest results and help Democrats in the 2010 elections.

As someone who’s working on Organizing for America phone banks, urging voters across the nation to call their senators, I strongly hope you and the leadership will hold the Dems in line to vote for cloture to get the bill onto the Senate floor where robust amendments can be added and passed by a 51-vote majority. (Many of us are also writing to and phoning Senators Landrieu, Conrad, Lincoln, and Ben Nelson, telling them this is the time to vote like a Democrat.)

2008 uninsured (per U.S. Census):  Harry Reid’s Nevada: 487,000 (18.8%)  |  Blanche Lincoln’s Arkansas: 505,000 (17.8%)  |  Mary Landrieu’s Louisiana: 869,000 (20.1%)  |  Ben Nelson’s Nebraska: 211,000 (11.9%)  |  Kent Conrad’s North Dakota: 74,000 (about 10%)

Again, Mr. Reid, thanks for holding tough. There’s more fight ahead, and we’ve got your back.

With best wishes,

(etc., etc.)

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