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Caucuses Unite in Push for Public Health Insurance

The leaders of four House caucuses on Tuesday called on Democratic Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama to ensure that a public health insurance plan is part of comprehensive health care reform legislation this year.

Chairmen of the Progressive Caucus, the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Caucus sent out joint letters urging top Democrats to back a health reform plan that “firmly hinges on the inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.”

The four groups comprise more than 100 Members of Congress and “represent the most underrepresented communities, in which livelihoods are paralyzed due to health care being set as a privilege,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus.

Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairman Mike Honda (D-Calif.) complained about the “egregious profits” that insurance companies make under the current health care system. CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said that the United States is the “only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide universal health care.”

Progressive Caucus leaders made the same plea to Obama earlier Tuesday, when nearly the entire 77-Member caucus met with the president to discuss its priorities.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who was in the meeting, said Obama was “adamant” about passing major health care reform legislation this year, but cautioned Members on the need to craft a plan that doesn’t harm people who already have insurance.

“The last thing he wants to do is burden families,” Cummings said. “The public option does not work if it just becomes a dumping ground.”

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