Public option gets some momentum

Suddenly, Democrats sound confident in their ability to pass a bill that includes a government-run insurer

By Alex Koppelman
Published October 23, 2009 3:05AM (UTC)
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Not long ago, many political observers were declaring the public option dead, saying it had no chance of passage -- and it looked like they might be right. Suddenly, though, it's experiencing a revival, and on Thursday some Democrats actually sounded pretty confident they'll be able to pass a healthcare reform bill that includes some variation on the idea of starting a government-run insurer.

For one thing, Thursday saw a few interesting leaks on the subject. One went to ABC News' Jonathan Karl, who reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes he has the votes necessary to approve a bill containing a public option. (Senate aides have since come out to deny that story, however.) Separately, the Associated Press reported that White House officials and Senate Democratic leaders negotiating details of a reform package are "strongly considering" the public option. The proposal they seem to be favoring, according to the AP, is one proposed only recently that would allow individual states to opt out of the federal program.


Meanwhile, discussing comments made earlier in the day by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who said she would vote for a filibuster of a reform bill if it contained a provision for a public option, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., told MSNBC, "We have 60 votes without Sen. Snowe to invoke cloture. I hope we have her but we may be able to do it without her."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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