KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Reid Still Seeks Common Ground On Public Option

"The public option has gone through several stages of evolution this year, but it could soon face extinction unless one of the new versions picks up political momentum," The Hill reports. "Senate Democrats have marketed a new 'opt-out' public option in recent weeks, and another proposal is expected next week. The proposals have fended off GOP calls for the elimination of the government-run healthcare plan. But it remains to be seen how much life is left in the public option, because no variation has attracted the backing of 60 senators."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is working to "unite liberals who demand the creation of a government-run public option insurance program with centrists who continue to resist" (Young, 12/3).

In a separate article, The Hill reports on what some of the key players, including Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.,  and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have said about a public option (Young, 12/3).

Reuters: "Most Americans would like to see a 'public option' in health insurance reform but doubt anything Congress does will lower costs or improve care in the short term, according to a poll released on Thursday. The survey of 2,999 households by Thomson Reuters Corp shows a public skeptical about the cost, quality and accessibility of medical care. Just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation" (Fox, 12/3).

The Hartford Courant reports that the end of the COBRA subsidy for some people is contributing to the debate on the public option. "A new month of jobless recipients will be phased out [of the COBRA subsidy] every month until next September, when the program is scheduled to end. That is, unless Congress approves one of two pending bills to extend the program from nine to 15 months. The possibility that people will drop their COBRA plan and join tens of millions of uninsured Americans is especially poignant as Congress debates health care reform, which may include government-funded health insurance in the form of a so-called public option" (Sturdevant, 12/3).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.