THE BLOG
05/23/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Public Option: It's Alive

While many of us here are simply relieved to have the passage of the recent health care bill, many more of us wished the public option was part of that reform. Like you, I thought that the PO was gone for now, with an uncertain future. However, David Sirota and Jane Hamsher have an interesting petition that demands that Colorado Senator Michael Bennet -- who led the public option letter drive -- add an amendment to include the public option during the Senate fixes.

You see apparently, once the House approved the Bill, it is up to the Senate to 'fix' the bill -- and these fixes can include amendments. It turns out, that only one Senator is needed to introduce an amendment to include the public option.

What you say? The public option can still be added? Yes it can, and yes we can.
Read on...

From Jane Hamsher of FDL:

This week, the Senate will pass a series of fixes to the bill. This is the moment for a leader in the Senate to make the first step towards actual health care reform: putting the public option up for a vote.

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado led others in the Senate in showing that a public option can pass. Now it's up to Bennet to show it he's a real leader and force a vote on the public option.

More than 22,000 people have already signed our petition to Michael Bennet to force a vote on the public option. We're going to deliver the petition to his office in Denver on Wednesday.

Senator Michael Bennet led the fight to, in his words, "save the public option." Bennet said adding a public option will make health reform "far more effective" in providing "real choices for working families" who need health insurance. Bennet concluded, "we need to take the final step to include a public option."

Bennet's primary challenger for his Senate seat, Andrew Romanoff, has already called on the Senate to "allow an up-or-down vote on the public option." The only question that remains is if Michael Bennet really meant to "save the public option," or if it was all for cheap political points.

Let's be clear: health insurance reform has already passed. President Obama will sign the legislation into law at any time. Anything that's done in Congress during this next stage will simply fix what will already be the law.

Adding a public option to these fixes won't endanger passage of reform in the House, because that's already over.
A majority of the Senate has said they'd vote for a public option. There's no reason not to force a vote on the issue.

So you see, one senator could add the public option amendment and let an up or down vote occur -- we already know that as many as 40 or more Senators have indicated their support for the Public option.

From an objective viewpoint, you can see that in the time that Michael Bennet was a Senator without a primary challenge, he was less than progressive, as he joined up with the Conservadems, voted against what I would call "democratic principles' and said the public option was not worth drawing a "line in the sand' or that he 'thought it would pass.'

However, since his primary challenge was announced, he has become the leader of the letter driving the public option whip count in the Senate.

Maybe, I am too skeptical about Senator Bennet, but I do want a public option -- and I think David Sirota's comments sum up my feelings:

Friends:

As many of you know, I live and work in Colorado. As the host of the morning drive-time show on AM760, I remain neutral in Colorado's heated Democratic U.S. Senate primary between appointed Sen. Michael Bennet and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. However, I do not remain neutral on the issue of a public health insurance option -- I am a firm supporter of that cause, as I know many of you are.

That's why I'm asking you to take a moment and sign this petition asking Sen. Bennet to listen to Romanoff's demand to offer an amendment to the Senate health care bill this week that would add a public option into the legislation

This is our opportunity to use the pressure of the primary process to finally 'draw a line in the sand' for Senator Bennet and the Democratic Party -- will he answer to us and introduce the public option amendment -- or will he leave us with an easy choice for the Democratic voters of Colorado for the primary?

Either way, we progressives will have moved one step closer to gaining a public option champion, either this year or next.