MoveOn Targets the White House as Health Care Fight Rages

First published at WashingtonTimes.com

That's not a typo -- the liberal group MoveOn, which helped President Obama win the election last fall, is now targeting the White House.

Keying off the furor over chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's Wall Street Journal remarks on health care that I blogged about earlier, MoveOn is activating its 3.2 million membership list.

Specifically the group is asking for members to express "disappointment" in Emanuel. Similar complaints have erupted all over the Internet today.

Here's the note in full, sent this afternoon:

Subject: No "trigger" on health care reform

Dear MoveOn member,

President Obama has been speaking out for weeks about the heart of health care reform: a public health insurance option that will lower costs and help cover everyone. 

But yesterday, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signaled support for a "trigger" provision—a proposal that would undermine the public option, and put off real reform for years.

This morning the president reaffirmed his support for a public health insurance option. But according to The Huffington Post, Emanuel has been floating the idea of a trigger since January.

Right now, when key committees are finalizing health care legislation, Emanuel's remarks will only embolden conservative opponents of reform. He should be standing with the majority of Americans for a strong public health insurance option—not disastrous half-measures like the "trigger."

Can you call the White House switchboard and tell them you're disappointed in Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments supporting the "trigger"? Tell them voters want a strong public health insurance option—not half-measures like the "trigger." 

Here's where to call:

The White House 

Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414

Then, please report your call by clicking here.

The "trigger" is a trap to kill health care reform. It would delay the public health insurance option for years, even though we're facing a health care crisis now. Without a strong public health insurance option to compete with private insurance companies, health care costs will continue to skyrocket and millions will remain uninsured. And a decision to delay is really a decision to deny: even if the trigger conditions are met years from now, big insurance companies will start the fight all over again to stop the public option from going into effect. 

To do the job, we need a strong public health insurance option now, one that is: 

Available to all of us: A strong public health insurance option should be available to anyone who chooses to participate. If you like your current plan, you can keep it; if you want to participate in the public health insurance plan, you can choose to do so.

A national plan with real bargaining clout: In order to truly control costs and compete with private health insurance plans, a strong public health insurance option must be available nationwide.

Ready on day one: Every day we wait on real reform, health care costs continue to rise. A strong public health insurance option right out of the gate is key to building a competitive program that will help control costs.

A truly public plan: To ensure it's held to the highest standards of accountability, a public health insurance option must be truly publicly run—accountable and transparent to Congress and to voters. 

Can you call the White House today and let them know you're disappointed with Chief of Staff Emanuel's comments?

Earlier:

As Capitol Hill plows through the health care bill, the White House is weighing in -- sort of.

Rahm Emanuel suggested in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the White House would support a health care bill without a public option, but President Obama issued a statement Tuesday morning, perhaps responding to the frustration over his chief of staff's comments:

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest.  I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

Sen. Chris Dodd also made a point to plug a public option when reminding his Twitter followers about the health care bill mark-up session, streaming live throughout the day here.

He tweeted: Live stream of the Health Care mark-up, including a strong public option.

My story for our Plugged In politics section Tuesday focused on the pressure outside groups are putting on conservative Democrats:

Democrats beware! If you're not fully supporting President Obama's health care overhaul, liberal advocacy groups have you in their sights.

As the August congressional recess looms and the final details of the health care plan take shape, the groups have unleashed a series of hard-hitting attack ads against Democrats while mostly ignoring Republicans.

Change Congress is raising money to go after Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, using one of her own constituents to ask, "Will Landrieu sell out Louisiana?"

Read the full story here.

I asked folks on Twitter about the public option last week. I wrote up a sampling:

There's no shortage of opinion about health care, especially on Twitter.

A random sampling of Twitter users Friday found user augustepdx saying if the bill passes without a public option it will be “one of the great political failures” while some blasted it as impractical or even dangerous.

Others said they believe those who say a public option could harm insurers are on the wrong side.

“Taxpayers needn't subsidize ins. companies,” wrote sashaundercover.

John Amussen said the notion his health options are “dictated by the profitability desires of [insurance] executives is immoral.”

User misha1234 said when her father lost his job and insurance, their family of five children was sent into bankruptcy thanks to health care bills.

Some more Tweeps weigh in: 

rkref No public option, no reform

swarheit As long as there are protections to make sure employers don't drop coverage ... thus forcing employees to use the public option, I dont see the harm. More choice is always better than less

sgwhiteinfla No public option would mean no real savings and no real reform. ... Insurance bureaucrat no better than govt bureaucrat.

dgiant public option is sorely needed in this country. It will help reduce the overall costs the insured are paying already for unins(ured)

doctormidnight Prob. the most important aspect of that will be lobbyists and graft. But my back is more concerned about its need for surgery.

And check out former governor and DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean's interview with Esquire about health care.

 

— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent, 

The Washington Times

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