Health Care Option Being Debated

Health Care Option Being Debated

Provision is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Talk in Washington and across the nation continues to focus on a health care option in health-care reform legislation. To date, three House committees and one Senate panel have passed versions of health-care legislation that contain a public option. One House Democrat predicted that without the provision, the bill could lose as many as 100 votes in the chamber.


Democratic sources however note dropping the public option may be necessary to win the votes of conservative Democrats. Sources close to the White House say there is increasing pessimism about getting Senators Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to back the compromise measure that is expected to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee.


Grassley has long opposed any kind of "public option" in health care reform. The Senate Finance Committee's ranking member, Grassley says he is negotiating for all Republicans and even if he likes a bill, it isn't a good deal unless he can sell it to more Republicans.


"If I can't negotiate something that gets more than four Republicans," Grassley said, "I'm not a very good representative of my party." Grassley said a true bipartisan overhaul ought to be done in a consensus sort of way, where it passes with an overwhelming vote in the United States Senate.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the plan will be included in whatever bill is voted on in the House. She says there is strong support in the House for a public option, though she did not demand that the administration express support for the idea. President Obama had pushed a nonprofit, government-sponsored insurance plan as an alternative to existing insurance companies, saying that a public program would compete with the industry and help reduce costs.

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