Proponents of a U.S. House health care reform bill that includes a public option received some good news Wednesday. A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House Democrats’ health care plan that includes a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years. The CBO also found that the bill reduces the deficit in the first 10 years. The new CBO estimate is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” Wednesday night, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said support is growing in the House and around the country for passage of the measure.
“I think the country is demonstrating by all the surveys I’ve seen that the so called public option is, in fact, gaining support. I think depending on how you cut it, as to whether there is 56 percent in favor of the public option, or 65 percent, or even under some circumstances 71 percent. We are in a good place and our caucus is in a very good mood.”
A number of Republicans continue to voice their opposition to the public option. At a recent town hall meeting at Furman university, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said he is convinced that if a health care reform measure that includes a public option becomes law the private health care industry in this country as we know it today would go out of business.
Clyburn says recent polls indicate that the American people are ready to embrace health care reform that includes a public option and he is hopeful the measure will gain support from members of the G.O.P. “We’re reducing the deficit with this bill. We’re doing the whole thing for under under $900 billion, while expanding coverage to 97 percent of the American people. We also have a significant expansion of community health care centers for those who may fall between the cracks. That is what the American people would like to have, and that is what we ought deliver to them in a bi-partisan way.”
Clyburn says the health care reform initiative with the public option should have a name that people can easily grasp as he adopted the name first mentioned on the Countdown program by Olbermann two weeks ago. “Whatever this public option is it should be called, in my opinion, Medicare Part E, ‘E’ meaning for everybody. I think that is a good way to do it because the American public has been living with this brand for a long time. They understand it, they like it, they accept it.”
Clyburn says the news from the Congressional Budget office indicates that the House bill makes sound fiscal and practical sense. “We have been as transparent with this measure as with any since I’ve been here. We want our fellow Congress people from both sides of the aisle to take a hard look at what we are doing because we really feel that what we are doing is in the best interest of the American people. We want to do it in such a way that not just Democrats will be voting for it, but we ought to have Republicans voting for this as well.”