On the progressive and moderate sides there are about 100 congressional dem reps each backing opposing "principles" for health care reform.
The progressive group, made up of the Progressive, Black, Hispanic and Asian-Pacific Islander caucuses, supports a public option that is immediately available.
The conservative group, consisting of the bluedog caucus and the New Democrat coalition, which some characterize as moderate, supports a public option that only kicks in if certain criteria are met. This is the same option that Republicans are pushing for.
In the senate, about 20 dems-- the more liberal, primarily-- are supporting for the full public option available immediately.
The Hill reports, "Liberals may hold the chairmanships of the key committees, but centrist Democrats are a force to be reckoned with in the lower chamber. The Blue Dogs and New Democrats combined make up a bloc of 103 votes."
Providing a bit more detail on the differences between the progressives and the "moderates," AP reports,
• The progressives say the public plan must cover all comers and must not be conditioned on private industry actions. The Blue Dogs say the public option "must adhere to the same rules and regulations as all other plans."
• The Blue Dogs say the public plan should occur only as a fallback, triggered if private insurers aren't doing a good enough job on access and costs. The progressives say "we oppose any conditions or triggers undermining and limiting the availability of the public option."
• The progressives say the public plan must be an entity operated by the federal government that "bears the risk for paying medical claims to keep administrative costs low." The Blue Dogs say claims must be covered by premiums and copayments without relying on the federal treasury.
Today, Saturday, thousands of Obama meetups will be held to discuss healthcare and mobilize supporters. This reporter has been to at least 5 health care discussions or townhalls. At each of them, single payer has received almost unanimous support, with full public option the distant fallback position. Yet single payer advocated are not excluded from the discussions being held by senate finance committee chair Max Baucus, and even among the progressives, single-payer is apparently not on the table, though progressive congressman John Conyers has HR 676 supporting single payer.
The question must be raised. Is Max Baucus simply representing the interests of moderate and conservative Democrats, or is he playing bad cop, in a good cop bad cop game, fronting for many more democratic senators afraid to admit they are protecting the health insurance industry.
At the progressive Our Future Now meeting, Ed Schultz reported that everywhere he goes, the only thing people want is single payer health care. "Where are all the supporters for these other options?" he asked to a crowd of about 100 members of the progressive media and blogosphere.
The future of healthcare for at least a decade will probably be decided in the next two months. So far, it looks like conservative/moderate democrats will be keeping America and Americans hooked on a private health insurance system that people and the American economy can ill afford.