Moderates Edge Towards Public Option In Health Bills, Senate Liberals Optimistic
CQ Politics: "Support for a government-run health care option is gaining ground in the Senate and could be included in overhaul legislation, top Senate Democrats said Sunday. ... 'The American people are for some alternative that will create some competition for the abuses of the insurance industry,' said Sen. Russ Feingold , D-Wis., on CBS's 'Face the Nation.' ... Sen. Ben Nelson , D-Neb., objects to a national government-run insurance program, but said he would be interested in a proposal that allows states to participate only if they ask to join. 'I think if you go with a state-based public option, you can get bipartisan support," Nelson said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' (Silvassy, 10/25).
Politico kept a running list of the chatter:
"Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a key Democratic moderate, acknowledged on Sunday there was concern about losing the support of moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine" (Isenstadt, 10/25).
"Appearing on CNN's State of the Union with John King, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said that he believes Democrats will implement a public option of some kind if they get enough votes to break cloture in an upcoming Senate floor vote. ... Hatch is adamantly opposed to the idea, arguing that Medicare and Medicaid are badly run" (Javers, 10/25).
"Appearing on CNN's State of the Union with John King, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) said he wouldn't rule out voting for a health care bill that didn't have a public option. 'I don't draw lines in the sand,' Brown said" (Javers 10/25).
Reuters: "Senate Democratic leaders are close to securing enough votes to advance a sweeping healthcare reform backed by President Barack Obama, a top Senate Democrat said on Sunday, adding that it likely would include a national health plan that would allow states the option of dropping out. Senator Charles Schumer, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, said he is pushing a compromise that would create a new national health insurance plan and allow states to opt out. The proposed public plan would compete on a level playing field with other insurers, he said."
(Sen. Schumer spoke on NBC's 'Meet the Press')
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to produce a bill on Monday that will be sent to the Congressional Budget Office for an official cost estimate, an aide said" (Smith, 10/25).
The Buffalo News: "The 'public option' appeared to be the rotting corpse of health care reform only two months ago, but it now looks as if Sen. Charles E. Schumer has helped to bring the proposal back to life. Working behind the scenes over the past four weeks, the New York senator has rekindled interest among some of his moderate Democratic colleagues in establishing a government-run health care plan to compete with private insurers. Now Democratic congressional aides say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to include a public option in the compromise reform bill that's expected to hit the Senate floor in November. And it's likely to be built around Schumer's proposal that states be allowed to opt out of the public option" (Zremski, 10/25).
The Washington Post caught the weekend sensation: "in a video clip starting to circulate online, we have "Public Option Annie" -- the singing protest at the America's Health Insurance Plans state issues conference in Washington on Friday morning" (Franke-Ruta, 10/24).
McClatchy Newspapers: "A handful of moderate Senate Democrats will determine the fate of this year's health care overhaul, and they're sending strong signals that while they're willing to compromise, they're wary of a strong public option. ... The informal centrist roster includes senators who have broken with the party the most this year -- Indiana's Evan Bayh and Nebraska's Ben Nelson -- as well as Tom Carper of Delaware, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut (an independent who caucuses with the Democrats), Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota."
"Their chief messages: Constituents are confused and wary of changes to the nation's health care system, and if a plan is perceived as too expensive and complex, there could be political consequences. ... In states where voters are more conservative, health care change is emblematic of something bigger, something analysts say could hurt those states' Democrats in next year's mid-term congressional elections. Thirty-eight Senate seats are up next year; each party now holds 19 of those" (Lightman, 10/23).
The Los Angeles Times had a Q & A which included this Q: "Would a public option make it possible for everyone to be covered?"
"A public option could make affordable insurance more accessible to those whose incomes are above the subsidy limit, but it is not likely that everyone would be covered. The House bill, which does contain a public option, is estimated to cover about 3% more people than the Senate Finance Committee bill, which does not include a public option and would cover 94% of the population. It is also possible that a public option would include a 'firewall' that would prevent some people from enrolling, specifically those who work at a company that already offers coverage, even if that policy is not affordable for the employee" (Oliphant and Geiger, 10/25).