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NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for health care

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Last week, Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake reported that Democratic plans to push for a "public option" for health care reform -- a publicly-financed plan to compete with private insurance -- were hitting an unexpectedly difficult wall: newly-elected Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

From her perch on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Hagan has kept a public option from even being introduced because Democrats fear she'll join Republicans in killing it in committee:

"We can't bring it up because we'd actually lose the vote," said the source. "They'd vote with the Republicans."

Bingaman and Hagan are in favor of watering down a public plan into Kent Conrad's co-op plan, which is supported by insurance lobbyists. "It gives them the appearance of supporting a public option without getting them in trouble with the insurance companies," said the source.

KayHagan.jpg

Hagan's position hasn't changed since that piece ran last week. Today, Mark Binker of The Greensboro News & Record reports that Hagan is still resistant to the public option, for two reasons. One is that Hagan thinks it would be unsettling to the insurance industry:

Hagan worries that such a federally run insurer may prompt companies to drop their private plans, or prompt individuals to run to a cheaper alternative, and destabilize the insurance market.

But as Adam Searing at Progressive Pulse points out, if any industry needs some shaking up, health insurance companies -- which currently leave 46 million people in the U.S. uninsured -- would qualify:

Isn't this the whole point of health reform, especially in a state like North Carolina where one insurer, NC Blue Cross, insures the vast majority of people in NC? People who like their Blue Cross coverage should keep it - but Blue ought to feel threatened by some competition finally in NC. They might get leaner, stop paying millions in salaries to top executives, and worry about keeping premium increases down to levels people can afford.

Hagan's other argument is political -- that the public option won't have enough support to pass:

"First of all, the president would like to have a bill by October," Hagan said on her way to the airport. To get that bill, no one party to the health care debate can get everything it wants. "What I'm working on is getting a bill that can get to our president."

But critics point out that this line of argument is both circular reasoning -- "I'm opposing the public option because Senators might oppose it" -- as well as self-fulfilling prophecy.

As the website Stand with Dr. Dean -- an advocate of the public option -- reports, 37 Senators are on record as favoring the public option, with 22 undeclared. If all of the 22 moved into the "yes" column -- all Democrats -- the 59 votes would put the bill in an excellent position to pass, especially if/when Al Franken (D-MN) is seated.

Searing points out that Sen. Hagan's wavering is in line with her largely centrist, pro-business political career. As a N.C. state senator in 2005, Hagan pushed for a budget that cut taxes on the wealthiest North Carolinians while removing Medicaid coverage from 65,000 aged, blind, and disabled people in poverty.

But Hagan's position certainly seems like back-stepping from the fiery rhetoric she used on the 2008 campaign trail. For example, the BlueNC blog found this Hagan statement in its liveblog archives:

Since 2001, premiums for family health coverage have increased 78%, and now an estimated 47 million Americans are uninsured. Washington is broken.

We need to change the way we deliver health care by standing up to special interests and negotiating lower drug prices and lower premiums.

However, Sen. Hagan does benefit from the health care industry more directly: As The Washington Post revealed earlier this month, Hagan has at least $180,000 invested in more than 20 health care companies. She is one of almost 30 key lawmakers helping to draft health care reform legislation who have financial holdings in the industry, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and senior panel member Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

(Updated 1:40 pm)

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re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

The people want this--for good reason. I'm putting up a piggy bank right now to contribute to campaigns against opponents of the public option. Suck it up, senators. Who are you really working for?

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

As a contributor to Kay Hagan I am disgusted and have called her and told her. Her office gave no response. This is the most important issue for me and I think most of us NC Democrats. She is a Libby Dole clone and has voted for business interests consistently.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I strongly support a single-payer health care system, lot like Medicare.
It is impossible to have a real health care reform without at least a public insurance option. All Americans desperately need a public health care system now, not 7 years later. Private insurance companies will find a way to reap off ordinary Americans no matter what. For example, if discrimination against pre-existing conditions becomes a law, they will raise premiums beyond affordable limits for those with pre-existing conditions. We have to remember that the reason for the existence of health care insurance companies is PROFIT, not health of American people, but steadily increasing profit. Americans do not need simply health care insurance - they need health care.
Who are you working for, senator?

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

AMERICA’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You

Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I am also disgusted with Senator Hagan. I had such high hopes when she defeated "Libby". If she continues to be a slave to big business, I will not vote for her again.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I campaigned for Hagan. If she keeps this up, next time I'll be campaigning for her opponent. We desparately need at least a public option for healthcare.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I BELIEVE, IN MY OPINION, THAT THE WALL STREET HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS ARE GUILTY OF NO LESS THAN MURDER!

Anyone who threatens others with loss of life by dropping consumers and turning down people with pre-existing conditions, are putting lives at risk. Is this NOT the same as killing someone?

WE NEED A PUBLIC OPTION NOW! we need a few public trials for those who oppose a public option for profits.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I WILL VOTE FOR ALL REPULICANS NEXT TIME .THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM APALS ME. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COUNTRY? EVERY ONE NEEDS TO STAND UP FOR (OUR) COUNTRY.WHAT CAN WE DO TO IMPEACH OBAMBA!I URGE ALL AMERICANS T00.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

This is RIDICULOUS

I supported Hagan. Looks like it was a mistake. At least Dole would stab me in the front, and not the back! And she's a Duke grad, so at least I could feel good about supporting the Blue Devils.

Really, that's the only difference between the two.

Hagan, grow some ovaries and fight for your constituents! Cut this Blue Dog bs!
In case you've forgotten, NC gave Obama our electoral college votes. We're with him. Are you?

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I have called Sen. Hagan (my district representative) on two occasions expressing my utter dismay at this big government intrusion into our health care and the complete unaaceptability of a "public option". I believe that Sen. Hagan an others in Congress must soon realize that the ground swell of genuine outrage over this mess will sweep them from office if they insist on proceeding. The progressives have severely overreached, and the backlash may be of surprising intensity.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

Kaye Hagan should be against Pres. Obama's health care plan as it now stands. Sure, health care should be reformed, but not this horrible way. Obama is a socialist and we, as Americans, should stand against his trying to socialize America. He is determined to do this and his health care plan is a huge first step for his hurtful goals. We are a number to him, just a number, just as Hitler's citizens were just a number to him.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

Here are two comments from above letters sent in. If in fact they are true, Senator Hagan should be removed as a committee member of Health,Education,Labor and Pensions. This is definitely a "Conflict of Interest" as clearly stated in the Federal Employees Handbook unless senators are excluded from this. This states that you should not even give the appearance of conflict, much less owning investments say for instance in health care. As an air traffic controller, I could not own stock in an airline (that is, even if I wanted to) because it might look as though I were giving that airline preferential treatment so explain the difference.
1st-"From her perch on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Hagan has kept a public option from even being introduced because Democrats fear she'll join Republicans in killing it in committee".
2nd-"However, Sen. Hagan does benefit from the health care industry more directly: As The Washington Post revealed earlier this month, Hagan has at least $180,000 invested in more than 20 health care companies. She is one of almost 30 key lawmakers helping to draft health care reform legislation who have financial holdings in the industry, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and senior panel member Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
I suggest senator, that we scrap this plan. We take time for a well thought out health care plan that benefits the people, after all this is what government is suppose to do; represent the people?
The cost of this will exceed 1 Trillion Dollars just for starters. We have to STOP printing more money, It is not the answer. Pres. Obama will have this country in debt to the tune of 25 TRILLION DOLLARS or more before he leave office at the rate he is going. If this passes, I will be willing to say next election, the American people will clean house and vote 90% New Representation. Americans will speak so loudly this country will hear the lions roar. Don't be one that gets eaten by the lion in the next election senator. Do the right thing, say no now. Put it to a vote find out what your people what? It has to stop!!! JUST SAY NO !!!!!!!I never said we don't need health-care reform, just not this one. Don't do the govt knee-jerk reaction thing by putting a band-aid on an open flesh wound. Just say no!

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I am very dissapointed with Kaye Hagen. She is so diluted that
she cannot state her position. She is more interested in getting
more money for election, than to even state her position on bills coming through. When she was off for one month, did anyone see or hear from Kaye? no no no. At least Mchenry stated his position. If she does not clean up her act, I will not vote for her. Straddle the fence and get more money. another Dole clone. What else can you expect from the Bank
of America executive. She is not concerned about her constituent, Just how much she can fill her pockets.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I agree with you 100%. This is not about Health Reform or Healthcare Reform. This is about Power and more takeover in Washington. I've never seen so much corruption in my life

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

The people who voted Kay Hagan into office have good reason to be concerned when it appears that in her first term she has opposed the President's agenda, especially regarding health care reform. I have told her and repeat here-we will work NOT to send you back to DC if you continue down this road. She is a huge disappointment to voters who thought she would be a good support to the President. What a shame that he has to fight both Republicans and also his own party. Democrats should be ashamed, including Kay Hagan.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

well when it comes to politics, you always were an idoit. and always will be. what? she isn't going to hand out free money so people like you don't have to work, and just leeach off the rest of us.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

I agree with William Cochring. I hate America almost as much as William and Sen. Hagen do. Americans must die so that insurance companies can live. Corporate law is clear: PEOPLE are meant to DIE; capitalist corporations are meant to live FOREVER! God bless corporations, it's what Americans work for, live for, talk about, kill for, and die for! We're cowardly slaves for them. Praise blue-eyed baby Jesus!

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

You people are not North Carolinians you are Marxist Left Wing Un-American people who have lost their way May God show you your foolishness because you certainly will not listen to reason

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

To all of you out there that complains about companies making a profit.. If you now have a job go into your Boss and tell him he makes to much money.. If a company doesnt make a profit, it can't stay in business.

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

GET OUT OF THE FOG!! SUPPORT PUBLIC OPTION!!

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

Do you have healthcare? If so, why not support a plan to allow others the same benefit you have? If not, what kind of plan would give you the peace of mind that you would have access to health care when you needed it? Socialism is a label that pro-business folks throw around when they feel their ability to reap uncontrolled profits might be compromised. When healthcare is run as a business the needs of the most vulnerable may not be addressed because they are a drain on the profits. I think Obama is trying to address the needs of these folks. Shouldn't some basic level of care be a basic right in the USA? Does calling a healthcare safetynet socialism make it any less important to those who need it? Or any reason healthcare should be denied to the sick and disabled?

re: NC's Sen. Hagan remains key barrier to "public option" for h

Senator Hagan, I want to vote for you next election, but I feel that health care is essential. Some kind of public option will be necessary if we are to give people affordable insurance, and require that people get coverage. I would like to see the senators and repulicans disseminate more info on what will happen to medicare. health costs and health coverage if we do nothing! Many people still believe the rumors and lies.