Joe Conason at Salon notes that, Ted Kennedy wanted the public option.
Forty years ago he began the quest for universal healthcare that became the cause of his life when he introduced his first bill outlining that goal. His final bequest to the Senate is the Affordable Health Choices Act, his version of the Obama administration's reform proposals, which was passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month. Republicans now say that if Kennedy had not been forced by illness to relinquish the chairmanship of that committee, he would have negotiated away the strongest provisions of that bill to win passage.
Kennedy's Republican friends should not make that disingenuous argument in his lamented absence. Lest there be any doubt about what he truly wanted, his bill includes a robust public option along with all the insurance reforms and cost controls that the president has endorsed since this process began.
How would he have handled the intransigence and dishonesty of the Republican opposition? We know that he could shout as well as whisper — and that he could be partisan as well as bipartisan. He believed that the time for incremental changes had passed. He was ready to fight. The tragedy of his death is not only that he didn't see the triumph he had dreamed, but that he fell before he could lead the nation to that final victory. Now that victory will have to be won in his name.
David Waldman from Daily Kos suggests that we, Name the Public Option After Kennedy, Not a Watered Down Bill.
The temptation to name the health care reform bill after fallen health care champion Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is as understandable as it is overwhelming. But with the bill currently still at the mercy of players who are, shall we say, not as clearly dedicated to a product that offers the kind of help Kennedy envisioned, I suggest that we not offer them the opportunity to attach his name to anything less than a bill he would have fought for.
So while it's undoubtedly in that spirit that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and others have begun their drive to honor Kennedy's memory by demanding that the HELP Committee's bill be passed and named after him, I suggest that it serves us and the Senator's memory better if our essential element -- a strong public option -- carries his name instead.With the Kennedy Health Care Plan intact in the bill, there's no reason the legislative vehicle that creates it cannot also bear his name. But while there's still a fight ahead about just what will be in this bill, if we're going to lend Ted Kennedy's name to something, let it be done in a way that keeps him in the fight to fulfill his vision right to the last, and which keeps his name on people's lips when they are finally able to take their families to the doctor without fear of financial ruin, saying, "We're covered by the Kennedy Plan."