Senator Bingaman SUPPORTS Public Option (with Quotes)
I work in the health care field in New Mexico, and have had the honor of collaborating closely with Senator Jeff Bingaman and his staff three times. I can say from personal knowledge that he is a genuine champion of health care reform.
There had been some allegations by bloggers who reported that his office had hung up on callers.who expressed fears that Senator Bingaman has done an about face on the public option. This is untrue.
You can hear from the Senator in his own words below.
I did speak with the Senator's staffers. Nobody intentionally hung up on MsGrin. They have been experiencing a heavy call volume in response to Chris' and Eve's diaries and their lines are jamming. MsGrin was not hung up on, she was unintentionally disconnected.
Jude McCartin, one of the senators aids, ensured me in writing today via email (dare I mention a staffer's name in conjunction with insurance):
Senator Bingaman strongly supports a public plan. The elements of a public plan that he believes are most critical are that it would be established and overseen by the federal government, and made available to all Americans. The primary purpose of a public plan is to ensure that there is at least one option for Americans that is affordable and would provide meaningful care. By leveraging competition, a public plan would also serve as an another safeguard against unscrupulous insurances practices. (emphasis hers)
The Senator had this to say to me:
I am pushing for a bill that deals with three key areas: containing health care costs, ensuring that every American has access to affordable health insurance, and improving the quality of care. I believe having a public plan in our legislation is important to achieving all of these goals.
Here are the three projects I have worked closely on with Senator Bingaman:
- In the middle of the drug war, he defied Republicans to earmark money to purchase and renovate a residential drug treatment center in my county, which has one of the highest multiple drug and heroin overdose death rates in the nation. He procured start up money for the intensive case managment services for drug users that my office provides today. Another Senator (He Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned) immediately sent out a press release claiming credit for the funding. Senator Bingaman said nothing.
- When the New Mexico Association of Counties Health Care Affiliate asked Senator Bingaman to help block Bush Medicaid Regulations changes that would have secretly shut down most of our hospitals that provide indigent care, he became the only Senator willing to sponsor legislation to block the regs. He fought quietly behind the scenes against the same forces that are trying to squelch the public option. Initially, he was unable to get the votes he needed because the press wouldn't cover the issue. I traveled to DC and picked a fight with Fox News. A videographer made a YouTube Vid for me and other bloggers helped. We got the story into McClatchy, NYT and ABC. He got the votes. He attached the moratorium to the Iraq spending bill, saving our hospitals at the eleventh hour. He did not publicize his role in this adventure.
- The Senator pushed through changes to Medicare that increased benefits to the public and greatly reduced the deafening sucking sound of dollars flowing into the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies through Bush "reforms." He publicized his role a little, but not as much as he should have.
I am a fan of the Senator and would encourage anyone involved in jamming his phone lines tp stop . By all means, make your opinions known, but please use email.
And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for...Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) answers the Four Questions in his own emphatically unminced words through actual written quotes. (No he did not tell me why we dip parsely on this night!)
- Do you support a public healthcare option as part of reform? Yes!
- Do you support a public healthcare option that is ready on day one? Yes!
- Do you support a public healthcare option that is national, available everywhere, and accountable to our government? Yes!
- Do you support a public healthcare option that has the clout to establish rates with providers and big drug companies? Yes!
One of his staffers adds:
It seems to me that there are various definitions out there of a public option. Our definition is a plan that would be established and overseen by the federal government, and made available to all Americans. The primary purpose of a public plan is to ensure that there is at least one option for Americans that is affordable and would provide meaningful care. Other people may think of it strictly as Medicare-like (which is impossible to get out of the Senate). I say this because I don’t want there to be confusion.