by Greg Sargent
One interesting side plot in the health care wars: The debate over the public option has suddenly reminded us that there are in fact two houses of Congress, something that's been easy to forget amid the media obsession with the "bipartisan" negotiations in the Senate.
Case in point: This very tough letter sent last night by House progressive leaders to Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, stating unequivocally that 60 House Dems will not support a health care plan without a public option:
Dear Secretary Sebelius,
We write to you concerning your recent comments about the public option in health insurance reform.
We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is "not the essential element" of comprehensive reform. The opportunity to improve access to healthcare is a onetime opportunity. Americans deserve reform that is real-not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents. A robust public option is essential, if we are to ensure that all Americans can receive healthcare that is accessible, guaranteed and of high-quality.
To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.
We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their Position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option.
The letter's unequivocal: Five dozen House Dems say, No public option, no support.