Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is the public option alive again?

For the last several weeks, I have been trying to follow the developments of the public option debate. I had pretty much given it up for dead, but then some in Washington are trying to revive it.

Sen. Harry Reid said yesterday that the melded Senate bill headed to the floor soon would include a government-run health plan to compete with private payers. (House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, also say their proposal will have a government plan.)
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The Senate plan includes a proposal some call an “escape hatch,” where states could pass a law opting out of the public option. It’s in the hands of the CBO right now for cost analysis.

But even with that opt-out option, does Reid stand a chance in rallying enough support for the public option bill? Especially considering Republicans (including the key vote from Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine) are united against any form of legislation with a public option. Aides tell the NY Times that he’s a short of the goal, so are we back to the public option being dead?

And if it does pass, I wonder if states would actually opt out? And what about the conservative states that have high numbers of uninsured – would they opt out? If it’s not available in every state, then wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of lowering costs and covering more Americans? Well, perhaps it’s too early to begin mulling all of that, especially considering that by the time I finish this post, the public option could be dead again.

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