Reid To Announce His Support For Public Plan
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to announce at a 3:15 press conference today his support for inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation. Politico reports that Reid will announce his "plans to push ahead with a public option vote most likely one that includes an opt-out provision for states even though he's currently short several votes for passage, according to people close to the situation."
"Reid, who spoke with virtually every member of his 60-member caucus this weekend, currently has between 56 and 57 votes for a proposal to create a national insurance plan but allow states to opt out of it, according to Democratic aides. A public option with a delayed 'trigger' supported by the White House and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has between 58 and 59 backers." That iteration could be floated "as an alternative if the opt-out measure fails to obtain the 60 votes needed for cloture, sources said." During the course of the weekend, Reid convened several meetings with his leadership team, and wrangled "over the details with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel" (Thrush, 10/26).
Bloomberg: "Reid's move gives new momentum to the so-called public option as Congress considers the biggest changes to the U.S. medical-care system since it created Medicare, the health program for the elderly, in 1965." The majority leader needs at least 60 votes "to overcome the ability of Republicans to block consideration of legislation. Virtually all Republicans oppose the measures passed by two Senate committees (Rowley, 10/26).
The Washington Post's Capitol Briefing blog reports that "senior Senate sources said they have been informed by Reid that the leader intends to send several versions of health-care reform legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for cost analysis, and that the bills may offer different approaches to creating a public option." Some of these approaches include an "an 'an opt out' clause that would allow states to decide not to participate in a government plan; an 'opt in' provision for states that many Democratic moderates prefer; and a 'trigger' that would create a government plan if private insurers do not offer policies at affordable prices (Murray, 10/26).
CNN's Political Ticker: "Reid hopes his proposal will appeal to liberal senators who have been insisting on a public option as well as to conservatives who are wary of a government-run plan but could persuaded to support one if states have the authority to opt out." Democratic sources have told CNN that because Reid does not yet have firm commitments in place for the requisite 60 votes, his "strategy is risky." But an aide described Reid as "cautiously optimistic" (Bash, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.