The Huffington Post's main story Monday night was a piece from the Associated Press discussing the ongoing negotiations among members of the Senate Finance Committee with regards to a potential health care reform bill. According to the report, a bipartisan compromise is being discussed -- one that could omit a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to its employees and a government-run public option.
The headline splashed on the top of HP's main page in red typeset? "AP: Senate Finance Committee To Drop Public Option."
If one actually reads the article, though, one would find that no such decision has been reached. The first sentence of the article reads:
"After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Barack Obama favors, according to numerous officials."
The key words in this sentence are "edged closer." Not "decided," not "agreed upon" ... "edged closer." The committee has been in talks for weeks with regards to a health care reform bill. No bill has been finalized within the committee, and there's no guarantee one will be finalized by the end of the week -- and the August Congressional recess.
Even if the Finance Committee bill, complete with these compromises, does make it to the Senate floor, it will have to contend with the HELP bill -- with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of health care reform's staunchest supporters, as one of its defenders -- and will have to go through a reconciliation process.
There's also the issue of a bill coming from the House, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has promised will happen by the fall. Any bill from the House -- whether it's HR 3200 or HR 676, which is sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and has a lot of public support -- would also face reconciliation alongside any bills that come out of the Senate.
In short, should a health care reform bill make it to President Obama's desk by the end of 2009, it will likely look nothing like whatever ultimately comes out of the Senate Finance Committee. That bill could in fact contain a public option -- and if it doesn't, Obama can (and probably would) veto said bill.
Monday's story, while important, isn't nearly the cause for panic the AP and Huffington Post are making their readers believe. They are being sensationalist and stoking the ires and fears of the public; knowing full well how big an issue health care reform is, they would rather increase internet traffic and spark heated reactions than give out the facts.
Which is not journalism.
I'm not saying don't care, and I'm not saying don't contact your Senators repeatedly to tell them to do your bidding. Contacting your elected officials and constantly showing your support for true health care reform is the best thing you can do as American citizens. A lot of the members of Congress have influential lobbyists within the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, pouring millions of dollars in getting them to keep the status quo.
Your voice need to be louder.
The six Senate Finance Committee members involved in these discussions (you can contact them by visiting the main U.S. Senate page and finding each Senator individually):
-Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
-Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
-Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
-Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)
-Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
-Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)