Dear Friend,

I wanted to let you know about an extremely important issue that I have been working on which is now front-and-center on the congressional agenda.  The issue is health care reform, something that many of us in Congress – and millions of unsatisfied Americans – have pushed for many years.

Congressman Nadler speaks with members of Health Care for America Now! in support of a strong public option for health care.

Let’s face it – the American health care system is severely broken.  We have known this for some time and cannot avoid the obvious evidence.  If we look around us, there are millions of people with inadequate health coverage or, terribly, no coverage at all.  Countless families go to sleep at night knowing they are one serious illness away from bankruptcy.  Countless others who think they have adequate coverage would still face bankruptcy if confronted with an expensive illness.  And a rapidly rising number of unemployed Americans face going it alone in the prohibitively expensive individual coverage market – or worse, going without insurance at all.  While insurance companies are unabashedly experiencing record profits, our health care system is failing the people miserably.

Repairing this failed system has been broached before; health care reform has been a buzzword in Washington for years.  What is significant about this moment in Congress is that we now actually have the opportunity to do something about it.  It won’t be easy, but the status quo is not an option.

The best-case-scenario solution that I have long advocated is a single-payer system to efficiently and affordably provide everyone with quality health care coverage.  I am a proud co-sponsor of H.R. 676, Congressman Conyers’ bill to create a single-payer system– an approach which would ensure each of us access to health care that is paid for through one government fund, instead of through multiple private insurance companies.  Unfortunately, there simply are not enough Members of Congress willing to vote for a single-payer system.

As the second best alternative, we are working to create a robust and competitive public health insurance option.  The aim is to make sure that among the many health insurance options from which Americans can choose, one of these options is a “public option”– a health insurance plan not run by a private company but by the government, much like Medicare.  I am a firm believer that a strong and effective public option is simply the best available way to repair our health care system.  Over the past several weeks, I have dedicated myself to advancing this plan with every weapon in my legislative and political arsenal.  


Nadler Urges the President and Speaker to Include the Public Option

I have worked with my fellow members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) to create a plan to influence the developing debate over health care reform.  I was selected by the CPC to speak to President Obama on April 28th on the necessity of including a public option in any health care reform bill.  During our meeting, I made clear to him the overwhelming evidence supporting the need for a robust public option.  The President said that he agreed with many of our principles and, in particular, with the need for a public option.  He agreed to fight for its inclusion and told us that it was now up to us to help convince our colleagues in the House and Senate.

Following the meeting with the President, I met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and my fellow members of the CPC to ask that three members of the caucus be given a seat at the table during the drafting of the House bill.  The Speaker agreed, and the CPC appointed me to one of those seats.  I urged that the public option should be effective immediately, open to anyone, run through a government or independent agency, and based on Medicare.  I also advocated for additional insurance reforms that include ending discriminatory practices against people with pre-existing conditions, or based on gender or geography, and establishing a baseline of coverage that includes mental health and preventive measures.

Committed to a Strong Public Option

In May, I began whipping my colleagues on the absolute necessity for a public option and convinced many of them to commit, as I have done, to voting against any health reform bill that excludes the public option.  This commitment will give us leverage to oppose the insurance company lobbyists, and force inclusion of a robust public option in the developing health insurance reform plan.  In June, due to my work on the public option, I was asked to write an op-ed for The Hill newspaper, outlining my support for the public option.  You can read a copy of my article here.

In June, the chairmen of the three relevant committees introduced the House Leadership’s proposal for a new health care reform bill.  This bill is an excellent start and includes most of the ingredients we need to bring health care out of the current crisis, including the all-important public option.  I am confident that the pressure I and other progressive members exerted was instrumental in achieving this milestone step.  We must now pass this legislation in the House, and fend off the pressure the Senate is certain to exert to water it down.

We now have an opportunity to make fundamental changes to the way we view health care and delivery in this country.  We can now create a health care system that puts human beings before corporate bottom lines.  I hope and believe that we will be successful.


Jerrold Nadler
Member of Congress

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