The public option -- one of the most contentious proposals in the health care fight -- might end up in the Senate health overhaul bill after all.
Several media organizations, including the New York Times and the Associated Press, are reporting this evening that there's no done deal, but there is movement toward including a provision for the federal government to sell insurance in direct competition with private insurers with individual states permitted to drop out of the system.
The Times says that the top Senate Democrat, Harry Reid, is leaning toward including the government-run health insurance plan in the bill he will soon take to the Senate floor. While Republicans and some moderate Democrats oppose the public option, those in favor of it are pushing Reid to force a vote to strip it out of the bill. "The idea is that it's better to show some fight," a senior Democratic aide told the Times.
Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, the only Republican to support the health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee, has made clear she would only support a public plan if it is triggered by private insurers not cutting costs and extending coverage enough.
House Democrats have the public option in the bill they are finalizing, without a provision for states to opt out.
Polls have also shown public support for a public plan to keep private insurers honest, but Republicans and other critics say it would lead to a government takeover of health care.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.