The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee — a moderate who is seen as the leading figure on Congressional proposals to create a national healthcare mandate — says that his bill is almost certain to include a public healthcare option, in a blow to the managed care industry and a possible major victory for progressives.The real fight is on. There are enough health care groups and Republicans out there to sink this. The GOP knows if this passes, they are done. They will do everything they can to stop it. Likewise, if Obama has to shelve this, the Democrats are in deep trouble.
“I think a bill that passes the Senate will have some version of a public option,” said Montana Sen. Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Chairman. His remarks come two days after President Barack Obama signaled in a letter that a public competitor to the private health insurance companies was a key part of his agenda.
Of course, the measure will still have to pass the full Senate. Republicans are vehemently opposed to a public healthcare plan, saying it will interfere with the markets and handicap existing private insurance companies.
“Despite the happy talk from the four Senators about progress and compromise, Baucus’ concession that a government-run, public insurance option will likely be included in the reform bill could sink its bipartisan support,” Roll Call’s David Drucker wrote late Thursday. “Additional items are also making compromise difficult, including the issues of government mandates and how to pay for it.”
“Our caucus is very much against [a public plan.] It’s kind of a litmus test,” ranking Senate Finance Committee Republican Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said. “That’s all you can say. There’s no follow-up question that you can ask me. There’s no further statement I can make about it.”
The creation of a public healthcare option could revolutionize health care in America.
We'll see if the Democrats and Obama are willing to do what it takes to pass this.