Public Option Issue Likely To Face Tuesday Senate Finance Vote
The Senate Finance Committee is likely to vote when it reconvenes Tuesday on inclusion of a government-run public option for health insurance.
Bloomberg: "Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia are pressing the issue after the panel's chairman, Democrat Max Baucus of Montana, endorsed more limited health cooperatives in a bid to draw Republican support."
But "[t]he insurance industry opposes new taxes as well as the public option, saying it would disrupt coverage. 'A new government-run plan would dismantle employer coverage, bankrupt hospitals, and increase the federal deficit,' said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans in Washington. "Rockefeller and Schumer plan to introduce amendments "to include a public plan in a finance panel draft. Baucus has opted to eliminate the provision, as Republicans argued that its federally backed buying power might drive private insurers out of business" (Jensen and Gaouette, 9/28).
The Hill reports that the debate is dividing Democrats: Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, "has personally signaled an openness to the public option but steadfastly maintains that it lacks enough support to pass the Senate. ... But it's not going to be fun for Baucus - who's been a punching bag for the political left - to join Republicans and vote against a Democratic amendment when the time comes." The Hill reports that Rockefeller, Schumer and other liberal senators who support the public option acknowledge the votes are not in the committee. "But they intend to force their colleagues to take a stand on the issue and possibly face the wrath of powerful interests such as labor unions and grassroots liberal activists" (Young, 9/28).