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Van Hollen: “public option is essential”

I received an e-mail from Representative Chris Van Hollen [1] (D-MD-8) today that updates my knowledge of where he stands in the health care debate.

As Van Hollen might write, I’m pleased to report that he makes repeated and positive mention of the “public option” in his remarks, which naturally center on HR 3200, the “American Affordable Health Choices Act.” From the e-mail [2]:

The American Affordable Health Choices Act fulfills the promise of bringing real change to America through two key provisions: giving Americans the choice of a public health option and providing universal coverage to all Americans. […]

One of the most significant elements of this bill will be the public health option. A public option is essential for creating choice for consumers and more competition for the insurance companies. The top 10 insurance companies have seen their profits increase 430 percent over the last seven years, yet the majority of Americans’ incomes have stayed flat while their insurance premiums have sky rocketed. A public option will keep insurance companies honest and bring health costs down for the American people.

This may or may not be a surprise to close watchers of the health care reform debate, but Van Hollen’s unequivocal emphasis — at least at this point — on the public option was welcome news to me.  Last year during the election [3] he actually went further, endorsing a “single payer,” [4]Medicare for all reform, but hasn’t opined on that since then as far as I know.

In an September 1 interview with Ezra Klein [5] of the Washington Post, this is how Van Hollen handicapped the prospects for the public option:

Right now, you have Senate moderates saying they can’t pass a bill with a public plan and House liberals saying they won’t pass a bill without one. Is health-care reform between a rock and a hard place?

We need to let it play out more. In the House there’s a consensus in support of the public option, and people coming back from their districts continue to support a public option. Then we’ll have to see what the Senate does and where we go from there. As we come back, the White House will have to play a bigger role in this debate.

I wonder how he rates Obama on that score now; that’s somewhat less than a pledge to fight for a public option no matter what.  But given his continued support for a public option — a stance that is presumably in step with other House Democrat leaders — it’s important to support Baucus bill amendments like Jay Rockefeller’s that add the public option to the Senate bill.

EDIT, 9/25: “Representative,” “(D-MD-8),” and link to the congressional web site added.

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Van Hollen: “public option is essential”"

#1 Comment By lambert strether On September 24, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

On the other hand, maybe if he’d kept pushing for single payer — the only legislation on offer (HR676) that can be shown through evidence to save both lives and money — there might be a half-way decent public option on offer today. Oh well.

#2 Comment By Thomas Nephew On September 24, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

Good point. Gordon Clark, his Green Party opponent last November, made a [6] a a month ago, noting that Van Hollen hadn’t cosponsored HR676, and hadn’t co-signed a letter to Sebelius demanding that the public option be maintained in any final health care bill.

#3 Comment By jacksmith On September 25, 2009 @ 12:25 am

ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY [7]

Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

Robert Reich explains the pubic option: [8] [9]

Hollywood Supports The Public Option 🙂 [10]

It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong public option on day one.

Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

jacksmith – Working Class

Things You Can Do To Help NOW! [11]

No Triggers! [12]

Triggers [13]

Krugman on heathcare ( [14])

Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare ( [15])

John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots: [16]

Howard Dean on the Public Option [17]

We’re Number 37! in quality of health care [18]

Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.