From The Washington Post:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced Monday that he will seek to bring a health-care bill to the Senate floor that includes a government insurance plan, a major reversal from just two weeks ago, when Reid was leaning against the idea.
He also called for the bill to include a version of the so-called public option with an clause that would allow states to decide by 2014 not to participate in the government plan.
“The best way to move forward is a public option with the opt-out provision for states,” Reid told reporters, adding that he “clearly” believes that such a bill would have “the support of my caucus.”
It also has the support of the White House, which said that President Obama was “pleased that the Senate has decided to include a public option for health coverage, in this case with an allowance for states to opt out.”
The proposal Reid discussed Monday is a merger of two bills previously passed out of Senate committees.
Under pressure from liberal Democrats to include a public-option provision in any health reform bill, Reid has carefully canvassed the Senate in search of 60 votes. So far, he has not locked down commitments from every Democrat, Senate sources said.
Other public-option approaches on the table include 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.
The latter has been promoted by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), the lone Republican to vote thus far for health-care reform in the Senate, and the White House has been anxious to enlist Republican support for the health package.
But Reid indicated Monday that he would not be swayed by her opinion.
“I spoke to Olympia on Friday. I’ve talked to her on a number of occasions. And at this stage she does not like a public option of any kind,” he said. “And so we’ll have to move forward on this.”
Reid later returned to the question of Snowe’s vote, and those of Republicans.
“I’m always looking for Republicans. … It’s just a little hard to find them, and we’ve had to do a lot of this on our own,” he said.
From THE HILL:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday that the final version of the Senate’s healthcare plan is unpalatable even without the public option.
McConnell issued his statement minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled the Senate’s full health bill that included an opt-out public health insurance option. McConnell said that the public “clearly does not like, and doesn’t support” the “core” of the finalized healthcare bill revealed today.
“So, wholly aside from the debate over whether the government gets into the insurance business, the core of the proposal is a bill that the American public clearly does not like, and doesn’t support,” he said.
Reid now must send the bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which will “score” the proposal. He cited “strong consensus” among his caucus and the White House for the version he announced.
The nonprofit “co-op” plans proposed by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will be included in the bill. The final legislation does not have a public option “trigger” that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) indicated she could support.
Senator Chuck Schumer is very influential in the Senate, so it’s fair to say he’s plugged in to what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
With that in mind, he says Senate Democrats are closing in on the 60-votes they’ll need to pass a healthcare bill that does, indeed, include a public option.
Schumer says he sees polls that show once a government plan is explained to them, 3-out-of-4 Americans favor it.
“There will be competition,” Schumer said. “But it will be on a level playing field, and it will be an option. If you like your insurance now, you keep it, but there’ll be an alternative if you don’t. We need 60 votes to pass this and we’re getting real close. One or two more and we’ll be there, and I believe by the end of this week, we’ll have it.”
Schumer doesn’t see any Republicans voting for this legislation, meaning each and every Democrat is needed to pass the bill into law.
This weekend, Republican Senator John Mc Cain allowed that this public-option plan is likely to pass because Democrats have the votes, but he says his biggest beef is that Republicans have been shut out of meaningful negotiations.