Assurances from Washington that a health care reform bill, which includes a public option, will reach the Senate floor are a welcome sign that the tide in this country has turned in favor of substantial change. The people are not buying the false notion that so-called “free market” is the answer to all their problems.
The fight for a public option could not have survived in the halls of a Congress where corporate health insurance lobbyists wield enormous power, however, without a mass movement that singled out the insurance companies as the profit-hungry culprit whose role it is to make money, not to make people healthy.
The response of the mass, and we should point out, labor-led, movement to the corporate-funded tea partiers at town hall meetings in August was a steady stream of street demonstrations, Internet campaigns, TV and radio ads, and lobbying in congressional offices – including in the offices of many financially beholden to those very insurance companies. A lesson here: grassroots, mass political pressure can make a difference. So much for all the naysayers who proclaimed the public option was “dead.”
But this mass movement isn’t going to rest on its laurels – and knows it can’t. There are a few versions of the public option, so pressure for the best, most democratic and robust public option has to be continued.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just introduced the House version, and it is not the most “robust” favored by her and others in the Progressive Caucus. However as the Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey, D-Calf., said, the fight is still on. “It’s not even the fourth quarter,” Woolsey said. “We will be insisting on the option being as strong as it possibly can be.”
Health care reform should be paid for by taxing the rich, not workers who currently have employer-based health insurance. The public option must be available to everyone. That’s the only way it will be able to offer meaningful competition to the profit hungry insurance companies. A meager, weak “public option” could be a set up for failure, thereby giving fuel to the anti-government arsonists.
The polls show that despite the vast media coverage “tea partiers” got, the majority of people want a government role in health care.
The will of the majority – affordable health care for every person living in this country – will be achieved only if the movement that has kept the public option alive keeps united and keeps on pushing.
A victory will allow the people to push open many of the other doors that need to be opened – doors to meaningful jobs for all, the right to form unions, curbs on the finance industry and so many more.