Liberals Dog Wyden on Healthcare

Fed up with Sen. Ron Wyden's equivocating on a public option, discontent grows at home
Originally at
July 28, 2009 -- Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), in the past a darling of his state’s unions and liberal community, is facing a rising chorus of criticism from those very groups over what they see as his stubborn support for his own alternative health care reform proposal, which differs significantly from the one proposed by President Barack Obama.
Wyden, Oregon’s senior senator, has been doggedly pursuing the Healthy Americans Act, a bill he introduced with Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) in 2007 that would provide for universal health coverage by requiring most Americans to purchase insurance through their employers. The bill would tax employer-based health benefits and does not include a public option, though it would allow individual states to offer one.
That was not the only thing that has upset liberals in the state. Wyden recently co-signed a letter, along with other moderate Democratic and Republican lawmakers, urging Senate leaders to “resist timelines” and slow down the effort to meet Obama’s demand for a vote before the August recess, a push officially declared dead last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would not be able to meet the deadline.
The sense of exasperation from liberal bloggers in Oregon was palpable. “Ron Wyden Against Public Option? Good-Bye, Ronnie,” wrote an Oregon-based blogger on the widely read website Daily Kos. And Jo Ann Bowman, a former state legislator, accused Wyden of adopting Republican tactics to put the brakes on health care reform.

You Decide

See a transcript courtesy of of Wyden's recent appearance on the Ed Schultz radio show where he says he is "very open to a public option" as long as it comes with "real" reforms.
But none of his own ideas have ever supported a national public option outright. In the interview, Wyden references a new Free Choice Act, which describes an insurance exchange but once again excludes any mention of a public option among that exchange.
Instead, he explains in a letter posted at -- the same email I received as well -- that he favors state-based public plans with certain triggers.
Wyden's own plan, the Healthy Americans Act, which he started pushing in 2007, "allows a public option in states that want one," the letter reads, "but also requires a public option if a state doesn't have at least two health plans offering everyone benefits just like members of Congress have today."
Now take our poll on the righthand side of this page. How would you rate Sen. Wyden's performance?
-- David R
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As a politician Wyden is challenged to find the position and words to satisfy all who might suffer in the process of stemming the economics of health care, while providing "more or else" to his constituency. A public option that does little more than add to the ranks of a Medicare look-a-like program is hardly an honest solution for reform. A truly game changing public option would inspire even greater opposition, perhaps deserved based on the history of government's exploitation of provider reimbursement. Wyden is in the proverbial "no -win" situation. His organization has largely lost the trust of many if not the majority of the people. Don't see that there is anyway a credible and sustaining solution can be designed and implemented from his "playpen" without so much fancy footwork and distortion, that we will merely return to a dysfunctional state.