United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that the final Senate version of the health care reform bill will include a public insurance option. However, the bill will also include an “opt out” feature which will allow states to refuse to carry the public option if they choose. The bill will give the states until 2014 to do so.
According to keen political observers, the House is more supportive of a strong public option mainly because Democrats have the numbers to pass a plan and don’t have to worry about a filibuster. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a fight for a “robust” public option — also referred to as “Medicare Plus 5.” Under this plan, doctors and hospitals would be reimbursed for services at Medicare rates, plus 5%. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn says whatever the final form the bill takes, a public option will be a feature of that legislation. Appearing on CNN Monday, Clyburn says if Republicans remain resistant to the public option then Democrats must be prepared to go without G.O.P. support because a majority of Americans want a public option.
‘I think the President is right to pursue bipartisanship, I applaud him for that. But I think it’s much better for the President to deliver on behalf of the American people. If you cannot get Republicans to put aside their partisanship and let us move to a vote on a very crucial issue such as this one, then I think we ought to go without them.”
Clyburn expects a fierce battle in the Senate over the public option, but in the end he says he is hopeful that the Senate will vote for the public option because ultimately it is the will of the people. “Your (CNN) polls said that 61 percent of the American public want to have a public option. What that means is that we’re saying that 60 percent of the United States Senate will deny a vote on the public option. I can’t imagine that 60 percent of the United States Senate will deny 61 percent of the American people an opportunity to get what they say they want.”