House Leaders Seek To Unify Dems On Public Option, Unveil Bill
House Democratic leaders are planning to unveil their version of the health care overhaul that will include a more tempered public insurance plan in which the federal government would negotiate prices with doctors and hospitals, Roll Call reports. No official announcements have been made, and many liberals continued to push for their more "robust" version of the plan that would let the government set prices, rather than negotiating. However, some on the left, like Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a long time single-payer advocate, appears to favor moving forward with or without the robust version of the plan (Newmyer, 10/28).
Meanwhile, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House majority leader, applauded his Senate counterpart for including any version of the public plan in his bill, the Associated Press reports. Hoyer said Tuesday that Reid's inclusion of the provision may not change the politics in the House, but that it could influence whether the final legislation includes the public plan. He also said he hoped some moderate House Democrats, who want to avoid passing a bill that wouldn't clear the more conservative Senate, may view Reid's decision as political cover (Werner, 10/27).
Hoyer "said Tuesday that Democratic leaders want to bring their massive health care overhaul legislation to the floor next week, if they can line up a majority behind a single 'public option' proposal," CQ Politics reports. He also said he would keep his promise to Republicans to make the bill publicly available for 72 hours before bringing it to a vote (10/27).
According to The Hill, a recent count by Democrats showed that 47 members of their caucus would vote against the more liberal option that allows the government to set prices, more than enough to kill the bill if it is also opposed by all Republicans. "The no list includes lawmakers who have said they would support the Medicare-based plan, but oppose the bill for other reasons, such as the income surtax it includes. It also includes several lawmakers who oppose the bill because they believe it will allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortions." Some Democrats think the leadership could still address those issues and rally the needed votes for the robust option (Allen and Soraghan, 10/27).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be using one standard strategy for unifying her caucus around the controversial public option: changing its name, CBS News reports. "It's not really a public option, it's a consumer option," she said. "As we're mandating that people buy insurance we are saying to them, you have leverage, you have another choice. This is your consumer option." Last year, lawmakers tried to rebrand the "bailout" of banks as the "Troubled Asset Relief Program" (Jackson, 10/27).