The U.S. House of Representatives may be near passing a health care overhaul bill that includes a 'robust' public insurance option. Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson says they are right around the 218 votes needed for passage. A whip count of Democrats is expected to be reported soon to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Cost will be a key to passage. The Congressional Budget Office reports the House overhaul would cost about $871 billion over 10 years, which is below the target set by President Obama. Credit is given to a public insurance option with provider payment rates pegged to Medicare plus 5% that would produce greater cost savings than alternative versions of such a plan.
There are 256 Democrats in the House, but some have expressed reservations about a public option, especially one linked to Medicare rates, saying those payments are already too low in their states and districts. Still, Speaker Pelosi and her deputies are united in pushing for the public plan in the bill the House is expected to take up next month.