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The Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter [pdf] to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius today:

Congress of the United States

Washington, DC 20515

August 17, 2009

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20201

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.


Raul Grijalva


Congressional Progressive Caucus

Lynn Woolsey


Congressional Progressive Caucus

Barbara Lee


Congressional Black Caucus

[emphasis added]

They members of the caucus who signed the original letter [pdf] in July included Emanuel Cleaver and William Lacy Clay:

Congress of the United States

Washington, DC 20515

July 30, 2009

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi


U.S. House of Representatives

H-232, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Henry Waxman


House Committee on Energy and Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charles Rangel


House Committee on Ways and Means

1102 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable George Miller


House Committee on Education and Labor

2181 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madam Speaker, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rangel, and Chairman Miller:

We write to voice our opposition to the negotiated health care reform agreement under

consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

We regard the agreement reached by Chairman Waxman and several Blue Dog members of the Committee as fundamentally unacceptable. This agreement is not a step forward toward a good health care bill, but a large step backwards. Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates-not negotiated rates-is unacceptable. It would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of “keeping insurance companies honest,” and their rates down.

To offset the increased costs incurred by adopting the provisions advocated by the Blue Dog members ofthe Committee, the agreement would reduce subsidies to low-and middle-income families, requiring them to pay a larger portion of their income for insurance premiums, and would impose an unfunded mandate on the states to pay for what were to have been Federal costs.

In short, this agreement will result in the public, both as insurance purchasers and as taxpayers, paying ever higher rates to insurance companies.

We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.


Lynn Woolsey

Raul Grijalva

Carolyn Kilpatrick

Jerry Nadler

Phil Hare

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Keith Ellison

Earl Blumenauer

Mel Watts

Donna Edwards

John Olver

Dennis Kucinich

Laura Richardson

Maxine Waters

John Conyers

Judy Chu

Maurice Hinchey

Hank Johnson

Diane Watson

Jackie Spier

Bill Pascrell

Lloyd Doggett

Marcy Kaptur

Mazie Hirono

Bob Filner

Linda Sanchez

Marcia Fudge

Barbara Lee

Andre Carson

Sheila Jackson Lee

Michael Honda

Jim McDermott

William Lacy Clay

Jim McGovern

Yvetter Clarke

Eric Massa

Chellie Pingree

Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Elijah Cummings

Bennie Thompson

Gwen Moore

Donald Payne

Fortney “Pete” Stark

Ed Towns

Corrine Brown

Alcee Hastings

Nydia Valezquez

Luis Gutierrez

Grace Napolitano

Albio Sires

John Tierney

Mike Capuano

Chaka Fattah

Jose Serrano


Bill Delahunt

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Added July 31, 2009

Gregorio Sablan

Robert Wexler

Emanuel Cleaver

[emphasis added]

Missouri has some truly excellent Democratic members of Congress.