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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Reid) Bringing Public Option Back to Life?

The death of the public option has been greatly exaggerated. While the President and is staff have been purposely wishy-washy about the government controlled insurance company option, the president has been hard at work, pulling out all the stops to put America well on the road to a single-payer system. When the "Baucus Bill" was passed in committee without a public option many said the door to the public option was nailed shut.

In Harry Reid's office this week, that door was re-opened despite the fact that Americans made it clear at town hall meetings across the country that they don't like the Democrat's proposals or its intentions to force its will on the people. But the leadership in the congress believe that the people who put them in their Office should have no say in a piece of legislation that will control over 17 % of the US economy.

Those "transparent" Democrats are having secret discussions right now in Harry Reid's office, trying to to come up with a compromise; including a public health care option on both senate  bills. The public option is NOT DEAD, over Senator Baucus' objections, Harry Reid is bringing it back to alive:
ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:

The public option. The idea was believed to be dead. Liberals wanted it, but Senate vote counters insisted it simply could not pass the Senate. The dynamic, however, has changed. The public option may be back from dead.

I am told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning toward including the creation of a new government-run insurance program – the so-called public option – in the health care reform bill he will bring to the full Senate in the coming weeks.

Democratic sources tell me that Reid – after a series of meetings with Democratic moderates – has concluded he can pass a bill with a public option.

This is not because there has been a new groundswell of support for the idea. In fact, there are still a handful of Democrats who -- along with Olympia Snowe and every other Republican – oppose the idea. As recently as this morning, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), for one, dismissed recent polls that show public support for the idea, telling NPR, "I think if you asked, do you want a public option but it would force the government to go bankrupt, people would say no.”

That would appear to be a problem because Reid needs 60 votes to pass a health care bill and there are simply not 60 Senators who support a public option. But Reid is now convinced that Democratic critics of the public option will support him when it counts – on the procedural motion, which requires 60 votes, to defeat a certain GOP-led filibuster of the bill. Once the filibuster is beaten, it only takes 51 votes to pass the bill.

And Democratic critics of the public option would get a chance to go on-the-record with their opposition by voting for an amendment to strip it from the health care bill. Under Senate rules, such an amendment would need 60 votes to pass. And while there may not be 60 votes in favor of a public option, there are also not 60 votes against it. So, it would remain in the bill.

The downside: The move would almost certainly cost Democrats the support of Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the sole Republican who now supports Democratic health care reform efforts. Asked today if she would vote to block a bill with public option, Snowe told reporters, “On the public option? I'd say I'm against a public option, so yes."

Another important point: Reid’s version of the public option is different from the more liberal version advocated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in two key ways: 1) Reid’s version would allow individual states to opt-out of the program, giving public option critics the chance to say that their states retain the right to scrap the idea; and, 2) Under Reid’s plan, the new government insurance program would have to negotiate payment rates with health care providers. Under Pelosi’s, payment rates would be tied to the lower rates paid by Medicare.

This is not a done deal. I am told that Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) – who worked for months to get Olympia Snowe’s support for the bill and has consistently said a public option cannot pass the Senate – was apoplectic when Reid told him he wanted to include the public option. “Baucus went to DEFCON 1,” said a source familiar with the negotiations, referring to the alert level the military uses for an imminent attack on the homeland.

UPDATE: Snowe gave an interview to Bloomberg TV today where she reiterated her opposition to the inclusion of a public option that would kick into gear immediately -- and said it may not be possible to finish a bill this year.

“A public option at the forefront really does put the government in a disproportionate position with respect to the industry,” Snowe said on “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

She added: “Christmas might be too soon. . . . We should give it the time it deserves.”

The Monstrosity of Obamacare should not be linked to Christmas, when you consider how it will damage the US Economy, and destroy the health care of the 90+% of Americans who are already covered, Halloween would be much more appropriate.

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