Kucinich Livid After Health Care Provision Gets Nixed

Posted October 29, 2009 at 3:51pm

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was fuming Thursday after discovering that House Democratic leaders stripped his provision from their health care reform bill to allow states to create single-payer health plans.The provision, which was in the health care bill that passed the Education and Labor Committee in July, was added to that bill on a solidly bipartisan vote and done in response to 10 states with active single-payer movements.“No one — and I want this to be on record — no one in leadership told me this was being taken out, nor would they talk to me about what the status of that was,— said Kucinich, one of the Caucus’ most liberal Members. Given the bipartisan and national support for the provision, Kucinich said he “can only conclude— that Democratic leaders took the provision out of the bill “because of pressure from the insurance companies.—A Democratic aide familiar with the situation said there was consensus to take out Kucinich’s language. Kucinich was warned that this might happen but was not informed of the final decision, the aide said.“The fact is, the majority of the Democratic Caucus agreed that the most effective way forward was through a competitive marketplace coupled with strong consumer protections and the choice of a public option,— Education and Labor Committee spokesman Aaron Albright said.Albright pointed to other parts of the bill aimed at keeping insurance companies accountable, such as getting rid of the anti-trust exemption and a mix of consumer protections. These are things that have “left insurance companies apoplectic for years,— Albright said.Kucinich said he is still going to push to have the provision put back into the House’s final health care bill. States need the right to pursue single-payer, or government-run, insurance plans, he said, because insurance companies have already been “attacking health care initiatives at the local and state level— in court cases.“The states are the real battleground here on health care,— Kucinich added. “What’s happening here is basically facilitating the insurance companies’ efforts to block single payer at the state level.—