During our health care discussion this morning on my AM760 drive-time show here in Colorado, we focused in on the public option and President Obama's controversial comments about it in Grand Junction over the weekend. In the 8am hour, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) happened to be listening in, and decided to make an unexpected call in to discuss the ongoing legislative wrangling. You can listen to the discussion here - it starts about halfway through the clip.
Perlmutter made the point that right now, the important insurance regulatory reforms are still in both the House and Senate bills (specifically, he was referring to the ban on discriminating against patients with a pre-existing condition). He also reminded listeners that the health care debate is still in flux - and that things are bound to change as the process continues.
Knowing the public option topic was on the mind of listeners, I made sure to ask him whether he would vote for a health care bill that did not include the public option. Perlmutter responded that he didn't know. He did, however, seem to begin conflating a public option with the so-called private "co-op" plans that the insurance industry wants substituted for the public option. He didn't go as far as to call them synonymous, but he did seem to suggest that a co-op plan could be as good as a public option - a notion that most empirical data suggests is just not true.
Listen in to the interview here, and decide for yourself how you feel about Perlmutter's position. Though Perlmutter and I agree on far more than we disagree on, I've certainly had my occasional disagreements with him in the past - and may ultimately have a disagreement with him on the health care issue. But one thing you can say about him is that he's a straight shooter always willing to answer tough questions - and I really do appreciate that.
Tune in at www.am760.net or on AM760 on your radio dial tomorrow (Tuesday) in the 8am MT hour - we're going to have on historian Rick Perlstein to go over his Washington Post article this weekend that looks at the historical roots of the conservative anti-health care protests.