Obama, Senate Leaders Surrender to Conservatives; Weaken Health Care Reform Bill

Interview with Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator, conducted by Scott Harris

With several conservative Democratic Senators and one Independent threatening to withhold their votes needed to pass health care reform legislation, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and President Obama signaled their surrender in pushing for the establishment of a government-run public insurance option. An eleventh hour alternative to the public option -- to allow uninsured Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase Medicare coverage was also shot down when Connecticut Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman opposed the measure, although he had publicly supported a similar plan in September.

With little chance that any Republicans will cast votes in support of health reform, all 60 senators in the Democratic caucus, which includes two independents, are needed to defeat a GOP filibuster and allow a final vote to proceed. Any legislation that is adopted by the Senate must then be reconciled with the House health reform bill passed in November.

Progressive advocacy groups campaigning to provide universal coverage to all Americans while reducing skyrocketing costs, have expressed frustration that Congress is being held hostage to a tiny minority of legislators determined to derail even weak reform measures. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator with Health Care-Now!, a coalition advocating a single-payer health care system. She talks about the inadequacies of the compromises being debated and what her group is doing to strengthen the prospects of more comprehensive reform.

Contact the group at 1-800-453-1305 or visit their website at Healthcare-Now.org

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