A Public Option is Alive and Kicking

On Tuesday the Senate Finance Committee voted on two public option amendments, one from Jay Rockefeller and another by Charles Schumer. Both went down to defeat, which gave the impression the public option is dead. I address this at my latest AIP column:

Is the public option portion of the health care bill dead? This is the discussion in the wake of the public option amendment votes in Tuesday’s Senate Finance Committee meeting. Jay Rockefeller’s amendment would have created a pure public option that was essentially an extension of Medicare. That amendment was defeated soundly 8-15. Charles Schumer’s amendment followed. Some characterized it as a watered down version of Rockefeller’s. Its reimbursement rates would not be tied to Medicare but would be independently negotiated and doctors and hospitals could opt in. Schumer’s amendment was defeated as well, 10-13. However, don’t be fooled by what appeared to be the demise of the public option. Senate progressives are confident that they can get a bill that contains a public option onto the president’s desk.

Senate public option advocates believe the Senate Finance Committee is a more conservative body than the Senate itself, so Tuesday’s vote may have been merely an experiment to determine which option stood a better chance of actually passing the Senate as a whole. Since Schumer’s amendment was defeated by only three Democratic votes, public option advocates are now convinced they can pass a health care reform bill with the public option on the Senate floor. As Senator Tom Harkin explained on MSNBC, Senate Democrats may not be able to marshal the 60 votes some believe they need, but they can certainly get 51, which will allow them to use the reconciliation process, a maneuver normally used to pass contentious budget bills quickly. Reconciliation is controversial, but Schumer and company feel momentum is now behind them, so be assured they will implement a full court press to get a public option on the floor of the Senate.

Read all of it and tell me if I’m right or way off base. I have always believed that the Dems will do what ever they can to get the Holy Grail of health care, the single payer system, and the public option is the best way to get there. Now that they have majorities in both houses, I don’t see them walking away from this opportunity so easily. Let me know what you think either here or at the article itself.

When you’re at AIP, be sure to stop by and read some of the other blog posts and columns that are posted. Lorie Byrd has a great column up today about fictitious stimulus numbers. Ed Morrissey explains why it is nearly impossible to restructure the tax code. On the AIP blog, the daily Morning Conservative Reading List is always a great place to start. Matt Margolis discusses the possibility of state mandated vaccines. Patrick Ishmael writes that something’s rotten in how Missouri’s Nixon Administration handled an E. coli break out. John Hanlon examines the differences between Joe Wilson and Alan Grayson.

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