Senate Dems Still Debating Public Plan In Health Bills
Senate Democratic leaders are tracking the support of a government-run public option in health care reform legislation.
BusinessWeek: "Not long ago, as attention centered on the Senate Finance Committee's moderate health-care reform bill, pundits dismissed the idea of a publicly run insurance program to compete with private insurers as all but dead." However, recent events indicate it is still showing signs of life. "In one sense, it's small surprise: While the Finance Committee explicitly rejected the public option, some version of the idea featured prominently in other major reform bills pending in the House and Senate. The Senate is expected to come up with its merged bill in the next week or so, and the House will deliver its own unified legislation soon after. Then the real jousting will begin" (Francis and Sasseen, 10/21).
Roll Call reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus said Wednesday night that negotiators talked about the public plan and its inclusion in the merged Senate bill, but he wouldn't discuss details. "Baucus said the negotiators discussed several issues, including the public insurance option and employer responsibility. 'Basically, how to put Humpty-Dumpty together here,' the Finance Chairman said" (Drucker, 10/21).
Reuters has a "factbox" on lawmakers "weighing options on the public health plan" and some alternatives which include: a "robust" public option, a public plan with negotiated rates for doctors and hospitals, allowing states to opt in or out of a national plan, a trigger mechanism that would create a public plan if insurers fail to rein in costs and insurance cooperatives (Smith, 10/21).
NPR has a status report: "Most polls show that a majority of Americans want a health care overhaul to include a public option. ... So it might seem logical that Senate Democrats, with their 60-vote majority, would include a public option in the bill that's headed for the Senate floor. But no decision has been made yet, because it's not clear how many Democrats would back a public option." NPR details the specific senators who are on the fence (Welna, 10/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.