For those who were counting on President Obama’s grassroots army–Organizing for America (OFA)–to lead the fight this August for a public health insuranceoption, there are some troubling signs.
This week, OFA Director Mitch Stewart sent two e-mails to members–oneasking them to call their representatives and another asking them to visit their representatives’ offices. There was no message to advocate for the public option in either e-mail.
When calling their legislators, Stewart directs OFA members to say,”Thanks for working to enact real health insurance reform this year.Voters like me support your efforts.”
Lame. Support which efforts? Blue Dogs, Chuck Grassley, Max Baucus or any other conservative, status quo-protecting member of Congress all claim to be working for real reform and would be happy to receive that call.
Folks who signed up to lobby their legislators were sent an OFA “OfficeVisits for Health Reform Guide” which features this message: “I supportthe President’s health insurance guarantees: no discrimination forpre-existing conditions; no exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses,deductibles, or co-pays; no cost-sharing for preventive care; nodropping of coverage for seriously ill; no gender discrimination; noannual or lifetime caps on coverage; extended coverage for young adults;guaranteed insurance renewal.”
Granted, these are all important and needed reforms. But there is nomention–not even a suggestion–that members advocate for theoverwhelmingly popular public option which would help ensure that theinsurance companies make these vital reforms.
I e-mailed OFA to ask why they omitted the public option. DNCspokesman Brad Woodhouse responded, “We are totally aligned with thePresident and his principles for reform and his support of the publicoption–advocacy for it is being used in phone banks, canvassing,etc. This particular push is around another target audience–folkswho have insurance and what’s in it for them–which are these eightHealth Insurance Guarantees which will end decades of unfair insurancecompany practices.”
I’m not sure I buy the different target audience excuse. But it is truethat there is a phone banking script OFA volunteers are currently usingthat asks people to add their names to a public list of citizenssupporting President Obama’s three core principles for health insurancereform–“including a public insurance option to keep insurancecompanies honest.”