Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Money And Health Care Reform

Nate Silver, over at fivethirtyeight.com, has compiled an interesting list of U.S. Senators and how much money they have received from the health care industry, both in terms of dollar amount and of the percentage of the total contributions they receive. Nothing earth shattering, in the sense that the list reflects pretty much what you would expect, although you will notice a couple of facts:

No Republicans support the so called "public option" (which introduces the concept that people could choose to get their health care through a government plan like Medicare instead of relying on private insurers). That is hardly surprising, like the fact that some of the most most vocal opponents of the public option sit at the top of the list. (Republican senators Enzi, Barrasso, Gregg, for example, have been prominently featured in cable news interviews in their opposition to health care reform, as have their Democratic opponents, Conrad, Baucus, and Nelson, who are scrambling to exclude a meaningful public option from any reform plan, after already doing everything in their power to shoot down any possibility of single-payer health care).

The interesting thing is the high number of Democratic senators that have yet to declare their position. Chances are they are looking for cover before they come out in opposition of the public option. In other words, they are waiting for others to declare their opposition before they themselves declare their own, on the grounds that there are not enough votes in the Senate to carry reform that includes the public option. Being that many of them come from swing states, this is hardly surprising. And yet, we should remember who they are and unite against them in Democratic primaries to oust them in favor of more progressive candidates. After all, the country is largely behind the public option (as much as 68% of the people supports it, according to some) and it will be a crime if Congress does not pass a reform that includes it.

This is the time to do it. In the mid-terms, Democrats run the real risk of losing seats, in which case passing meaningful reform will be even harder. Contact your elected officials and register your support for a full public option.

You have been warned.

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