From NBC's Luke Russert
House members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus -- comprised of the Asian Pacific American, black and Hispanic caucuses and the Progressive Caucus stated they would not vote for health-care reform legislation that did not include a "robust public option."
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), a member of the Progressive Caucus claimed at a news conference today on Capitol Hill that she had a letter with 53 signatures, attesting to that. "We have gathered here today to demand that the final health-care legislation has a robust public option and to vow we will vote against it if it does not," she said.
Video: Rachel Maddow is joined by Rep. Anthony Weiner, to talk about the latest battles in Congress to pass the health care reform bill.
Echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's words from earlier in the day, Woolsey took a swipe at health-insurance companies saying, "Insurance companies have had decades to provide the kind of coverage that Americans need. They have shown that they cannot or they will not do it."
Woolsey then said, "We can compromise no more."
Barbara Lee (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, went after those who have said health-care legislation is too costly in the midst of a recession. "We must continue to reject these claims that the cost of reforming health care in America is something that our nation cannot afford," she said. "We reject that. The money is there to pay for all Americans."
Lee then urged for a national system similar to Medicare saying, "The cornerstone of comprehensive health-care reform is a robust public health plan option similar to Medicare; Medicare has worked!"
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, continued the demand for a public option saying, "Business as usual is not going to work. We will support nothing less than real comprehensive health care."
Michael Honda (D-CA), chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus, attacked the recent compromise made by four members of the Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "The compromise will cost more than the original bill, pose a greater burden on working families, gut the public plan eliminating access subsidies for families between 300 percent and 400 per cent of poverty," Honda proclaimed. "The people of my district are relying on us to bring true reform to the health-care system, and this is not it."
After the conference, Donna Edwards (D-MD) was asked by NBC News about the possibility of supporting a health-insurance co-op, an idea that earlier in the week Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he was open to.
Edwards responded, "Co-ops haven't really worked in this country. There were attempts to do co-ops, and there is maybe one left in the entire country." She continued: "Insurance companies and co-ops do not start out automatically with a provider network…I think it would be very difficult and very costly to pursue wholesale across the country this idea of co-op."