Earlier this month, Mike wrote an article that talked about the decision of Olympia Snowe to support the health care legislation and help it proceed from committee. Consequently, she was the only Republican to vote for the bill that came out of the Senate Finance Committee. In the comments on that article, I speculated that Senator Snowe may have supported the bill’s move from committee in the hope that she could possibly influence the final version of the bill. That legislation is now in closed door meetings in the Senate, in an effort to combine it with another Senate bill and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will include a public insurance option.
I am not sure if I want to get into the pros and cons of a public health insurance option, as we have discussed them over and over in the different discussions we have had. What I find interesting is how the public option was declared to be a requirement by some Democrats and when public support for such an option seemed to be waning during the summer Congressional recess, that “requirement” didn’t seem as requiring. Now that the polls are showing some modicum of support for a public option, Reid is finding a way to put back in the Senate version of the bill.
It is not clear if Senator Reid has enough votes to force that option into the bill, but it is clear he is working hard. From all indications, he will not have the support of Senator Snowe. She has said she is deeply disappointed by Reid’s decision to include the option, even if it includes an opt-out provision for individual states. Most, if not all states, would likely not choose to opt-out of the plan.
If the public option is included in the final version of the bill, it seems sure that Snowe will choose not to support it. That means the Democrats will most likely have enough votes to secure it’s inclusion, if they can round up the entire Democratic caucus and garner their support. A few moderate Democrats will be the key to this legislative wrangling, including Senator Blanche Lincoln, from Arkansas. Other key Democrats include Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Did you think the debate over health care reform was settling down? Ha, Ha, not a chance. It’s beginning to look like it is just heating up.