Top House progressive hesitant on Obama proposal

Co-chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus has concerns about some elements of president's reform outline

Published February 22, 2010 11:25PM (EST)

As mentioned in this space earlier today, though the Senate has gotten much of the attention during the whole process of trying to pass healthcare reform, passage in the House -- even with President Obama's new proposal in mind -- isn't a given.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely have to work particularly hard to convince House liberals, who don't like several elements of the Senate bill and still support a public option, that they should vote for Obama's proposal, which is based on the Senate bill and doesn't include the public option.

On that subject, the reaction of Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., to the White House announcement is particularly interesting, as the congressman co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Here's the full statement that his office released Monday afternoon:


I appreciate the president working to move the health care agenda forward. Given the gridlock produced by constant Republican obstructionism, the White House’s continued effort to reach a meaningful solution is welcome. The president’s plan includes several essential elements – including efforts to hold down premium increases and eliminating the special Nebraska deal in the original Senate bill – that I think are vital.

I and many other progressives would enthusiastically support the bill if a public option, which would provide insurance industry competition and greatly reduce the deficit, were a higher priority. I am also concerned that affordability credits are not sufficient for many working Americans who often have to choose between health care and other equally basic expenses each month. Insurance industry regulations in the bill could be stronger, and I will look carefully at the outcome of final negotiations on this point.

I look forward to finalizing a reform package that will give all Americans adequate, reliable health care access. Although the president’s bill does not include certain elements that I consider fundamental to successful reform, I applaud his commitment to the issue and fully expect to work with other lawmakers to produce a strong final product that we can be proud of.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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