Despite months of outward ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea for a final vote in the coming weeks.The Hill—Reid, Baucus ready to split on public option as vote nears: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), once in polite disagreement over the idea of a public option component in healthcare legislation, are approaching a breaking point over the issue. Reid and Baucus have staked out opposing positions on the central question of a government role in health reform — Reid has consistently stood in favor, but Baucus has consistently said the idea doesn’t have enough Senate support."
President Obama has cited a preference for the so-called public option. But faced with intense criticism over the summer, he strategically expressed openness to health cooperatives and other ways to offer consumers potentially more affordable alternatives to private health plans.
In the last week, however, senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the healthcare bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring to the Senate floor this month.
WaPo—Democrats Wyden, Rockefeller Withhold Support of Panel's Bill:
At least two Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have refused to pledge support for the health-care reform bill scheduled for a vote this week, underscoring the hard work ahead for President Obama as he tries to enact the most ambitious domestic policy legislation in more than a generation.And for the comic relief...
Although Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he has the votes to pass the 10-year, $900 billion bill out of the committee, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) remained undecided Sunday. If all 10 Republicans on the panel vote no, two Democratic defections would be enough to send Baucus and the Obama White House scrambling to regroup.
"More needs to be done to hold insurance companies accountable, to hold premiums down for the American people," Wyden said in an interview Sunday. "I want to continue these discussions."
WaPo—The Conservative Case for Reform by Bobby Jindal: "Memo to Washington: The debate on health care has moved on. Democratic plans for a government takeover are passé. The people don't want it."