Report: Pelosi can't pass "robust" public option

There may not be enough votes in the House for the strongest version of the government-run insurer proposal


Alex Koppelman
October 23, 2009 7:45PM (UTC)

Despite the buzz the public option had going on Thursday, a more conservative "trigger" plan, proposed by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, may win the day. That's what Politico's Mike Allen reported Friday, along with what would be a pretty significant revelation if true: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has counted votes and believes she can't get the most "robust" version of the public option proposals passed.

"There has been a flurry of rumors that a robust government option remains viable. But top House Democrats privately concede that is wishful thinking that ignores the power of moderate Democrats in this debate," Allen reports. "The House is now likely to include one of the two weaker versions in the bill that will be considered on the floor as Obama’s historic health-reform plan chugs toward passage – possibly a version that would set rates for the public plan by allowing doctors and hospitals to negotiate them with Medicare."

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Pelosi aides and other House Democrats immediately started pushing back against the story, telling reporters that the vote count hasn't been completed yet and that any speculation about it is premature. But even some of those outlets that had reported the denials, like Talking Points Memo, are saying that Allen may be right about Pelosi not having enough votes to pass the strongest possible version of a public option.

There's one other important revelation in Allen's story, which has gotten somewhat buried below the Pelosi news: He reports that at a meeting of Democratic leaders at the White House on Thursday night, President Obama said "that his preference is for the trigger" plan. Under that proposal, there would be no public option immediately, but one would be created if private insurers didn't meet certain targets by a given date.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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