I mentioned last week that Blanche Lincoln was holding an online chat on health care Saturday. You can watch a replay of the event at this link. And you can see several Arkansans pointedly question the Senator about her opposition to a public option in health care.
Here are some sample comments, taken from the chat:
[Comment From Ray and Judy ]
We are terribly disappointed that you have caved in to the insurance industry and failed to support the public option for health care. It may very well affect our vote for you in the next election.
[Comment From Nathan – Rogers ]
As long as hospitals and insurance company executive are paid based on the profits their comapnies make, how can we expect the focus to be on the patient without a public option?
[Comment From Jesse Barr, Winslow, AR ]
Changing the rules will not work! The insurance companies will stall and obfuscate and pay any fines as a cost of doing business! Competition is the ONLY way to make the insurance corporations change their behavior!
[Comment From Shannon, Little Rock ]
Did the bill you supported in the Finance Committee have a public option?
[Comment From “Doc” – Fayetteville ]
It seems to me that you are more inclined to keep insurance companies in the health care business than you are to see people provided health care… Please comment. Do insurance companies NEED to sell health care policies to survive?
[Comment From Stan Wilson ]
Again why are you opposed to a public option or everyone having the same health care options that you have?
Well over half the comments in this chat referred to Sen. Lincoln’s opposition to a public option. Clearly advocates knew when and where to make their case. And given the fact that Lincoln’s staff controlled which questions made it to the chat, the inclusion of all these questions is striking.
In response, Lincoln basically dodged the questions, saying that there are many ways to provide choice and competition for health insurance and highlighting other aspects of the Finance Committee bill. In one part, she advocated for automatic enrollment for state-based Medicaid systems, which would do a better job of capturing some of those without insurance who are unaware of their options or have trouble negotiating the enrollment forms. But in general, she tried to answer the questions by not answering the questions.
Clearly the health care activism is not subsiding, and individual votes by members of Congress will not be forgotten as we move to an end game on health care.