Public Plan Debated As Health Proposals Come Closer To Floor Votes, Unions Pressure Lawmakers
Unions and some lawmakers are continuing their efforts to have a government-run public plan included in health reform legislation.
The New York Times: "More than 125 union leaders from 27 states have arrived in Washington to meet with senators and House members who are sitting on the fence about the public option - a government-run insurance plan - and other matters. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. said these union leaders would deliver more than 42,000 handwritten letters to lawmakers, convinced that such letters make more of an impression than e-mails." Unions want to make sure employers are required to provide insurance to employees and they want a strong public option (Greenhouse, 10/8).
MSNBC: "The Finance Committee defeated two public plan proposals, but the idea could be revived on the Senate floor, or in bargaining with House negotiators. On the Senate Finance Committee, the Democrats who voted against the public plan came from states that Republican Sen. John McCain won in last year's presidential election: (Max) Baucus of Montana, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. That pattern is likely to be seen again among House Democrats" (Curry, 10/8).
CBS News reports that, in the House, there are three distinct public options: A "robust" one with providers reimbursed at Medicare rates plus 5 percent, a "triggered" one where the government negotiates with providers at rates higher than 5 percent over Medicare rates, or a public option with negotiated rates and expanded Medicaid eligibility (for everyone who makes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line (Condon, 10/8).
The Associated Press reports that House Republican Whip Eric Cantor and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will meet soon to work out their differences over the health care reform: On CBS's early show, Cantor said "the notion of a public option to compete with private insurance plans has been 'profoundly rejected by the American people'" (10/8).