Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) will oppose a final health care bill that has triggers or that allows states to opt out of the public option – with an asterisk. She would allow states to opt-out only if they did provided “a more progressive option” offered at the state level.
Activists from Firedoglake, CREDO, and Democracy for America have placed hundreds of calls to progressive Members of Congress to organize opposition to a final health care bill that has triggers to delay a public option, or that allows states to opt their citizens out of choosing the public health insurance option. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Michael Capuano both committed to opposing such a bill last week.
After call reports from activists indicated Jackson Lee’s office was telling constituents she opposed triggers, we called to confirm with her press office.
According to her office, Rep. Jackson Lee would support a plan that allowed states to opt-out in favor of a better public plan. “If a state wanted to opt out if its plan is better” than the federal public option, Rep. Jackson Lee wouldn’t oppose such an effort. Additionally, “the Congresswoman is opposed to triggers that would delay a public option,” according to her office.
Such an opt-out plan is likely not under serious consideration by the Senate, which first floated the opt-out idea in its bill draft currently awaiting a score from the CBO. We’ll know the true structure of opt-outs this week, but they presumably allow states to opt their citizens out of choosing the public option without much of a backup plan.
What’s a “more progressive” state health care option? It could be a state-level single payer program, but it’s otherwise in the eye of the beholder. Rep. Jackson Lee is reportedly organizing Democrats in southern states – who would likely be adversely affected by state opt-outs – to oppose regressive opt-out provisions. Let’s hope they will end up opposing any regressive state opt-out in the final bill, and not just using this “more progressive” caveat as a rhetorical escape hatch.