At the moment, we have a House bill with a public option and individual mandate, and a Senate bill without a public option but with an individual mandate to purchase health insurance.  As we move toward the conference process in which both bills are merged, the Senate has made clear its expectation that the House will not make any deviations from the Senate bill, and pass it largely as-is.

Such an expectation should make certain Members of Congress – 65 of them to be exact – a little bit uncomfortable.  That’s because this summer, FDL captured evidence of 65 progressive Representatives pledging to vote against any bill that does not contain a public option.

With all of this in mind, one thing must be made certain: if there’s no public plan to compete with private insurers and provide coverage for those who can’t afford to pay private premiums, there cannot be a mandate for all to purchase insurance.

That’s why we launched a campaign this week to check in with those same 65 progressive members and find out where they stand on the conference process.  Almost 100 FDL activists have already called progressive Members of Congress to ask them a simple, but crucial question:  “Will the Representative oppose a bill with an individual mandate if it does not include a public option?”

We’ve set up a great tool that displays the call reports made by our activists in near-real time.  Check it out here when you make your calls. Here’s a sampling of what folks are saying:

Susan tells us that Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) would “‘have a very hard time voting for something if it didn’t contain a public option’ unless ‘some miracle’ was inserted that he does not yet know about.”

Sandra D contacted Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (TX-18) office and reported,

Rep Sheila Jackson Lee had meet with several like minded Reps today and they are looking to host an event in the Houston area so the public can weigh in fully… Rep Jackson Lee fully supports the public option and healthcare for all.

Kevin contacted Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-12) and reported,

…Rep. Velazquez has NOT changed her position regarding her support for the Public Option.  I expressed a a view that the Senate/”Mandate” bill should be killed if there is to be No PUBLIC OPTION.

We heard from two different callers, Thomas and David, that Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-3) wanted to pass health care reform, but also wanted the public option, or something that moves us closer to a public option.

These calls are key to determining the political landscape on the Hill.  Thanks to your calls, we can not only make our voices heard, but we can find out where our Members stand.  From our activist calls, we now know that Rep. Jackson Lee is meeting with other Houston members; we also know that Rep. McGovern is a likely candidate to bail on us.

Reports are still coming in, and we can always use more callers.  They help keep us ahead of the action and are crucial to fighting for real health care reform.  Click here and start calling progressive members of Congress to find out where they stand on health care reform.

Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.