Many liberals are hailing Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s decision to pick the opt-out version of the public option over the trigger as a progressive victory. Representative Lynn Woolsey, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus agrees--and thinks there’s no reason the House shouldn’t go even farther, and include a strong public option in its bill. Of course, we already know the House bill will be stronger than even the version that Reid endorsed today. It will be a national plan, with all states participating from the start.
Is it curtains for the strong public option? Over the past week, the White House has taken a lot of heat for not going to bat for it, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reportedly just decided that the Senate bill will include a watered-down proposal that would allow states to opt out of a national public plan.
As political pressure has reduced the price tag of expanding coverage to below $1 trillion over ten years, many observers assumed Democrats would react by trimming financial assistance for the middle class--that is, people making between twice and four times the poverty line, or between $44,000 to $88,000 for a family of four. The assumption was that if Democrats had to make tough choices about what to cut, they'd protect the the poor and most vulnerable.
After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort. The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate le
The House is still deliberating between two versions of the public option, as Cohn laid out earlier: a stronger version that would tie public option pay rates to Medicare “plus 5” percentage points, and a weaker version that would have negotiated rates, but also separately raise Medicaid eligibility from 133% to 150% percent above the poverty line to save money.
And I thought yesterday was crazy. Brian Beutler has sources telling him that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is close to rounding up 60 votes for an "opt-out" public option, but that the White House is trying to slam on the brakes. The main reason? Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, whose support the White House covets, is against the idea and prefers some sort of trigger. One source tells Beutler: They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger...
Slipping their way past the tight security at the Capitol Hilton, liberal activists from a group called “Billionaires for Wealthcare” interrupted AHIP pollster Bill McInturff as he took the stage for the closing speech of the insurance lobby’s conference this morning. About five activists who had infiltrated the conference, wearing business suits and pearls, burst out into a rendition of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. “Just give me a pu-blic option! We can sniff out waste just like a dauschaund—costs come down!” they sang to the insurer-friendly audience. “The option, the option!
Thursday was as crazy a day as I've seen in Washington. The flurry of legislative activity over the public insurance option--and the flurry of media coverage it generated--made it difficult to keep up and, at times, to separate truth from rumor or hyperbole. But over the course of the day, one thing became increasingly clear. At least for the moment, the debate isn't over whether to include a public option. It's over what kind. Brian Beutler and Carrie Budoff Brown have the essentials on the Senate situation.
“Are they going to try to storm the building?” a man in a dark business suit asked a colleague inside the Capitol Hilton ballroom, during a break in the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference this afternoon. “Or are we not going to let that happen?” Directly outside the Hilton's well-guarded doors, about a hundred protesters had gathered to denounce the rapacious insurance executives they believed to be inside the Hilton.
Speaking beneath the twinkling crystal chandeliers of the Capitol Hilton ballroom this morning, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni declared that the insurance industry is still on board with the Democratic health care reform effort, pushing back against the presumption that the two sides have declared war. “Our community was one of the first to position ourselves very actively to a massive overhaul of the insurance market,” Ignagni told the audience members, who were attending the organization’s conference on state insurance issues.