Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), still facing the prospect of a tough re-election in 2010, has reversed her position on the public insurance option, saying Tuesday she will oppose the measure as a part of health care reform after previously expressing support for the policy, the Arkansas News reported.
Lincolns vote on a health care reform bill could be key as the Senate Democratic leadership looks to build a coalition of 60 Senators to pass legislation without using reconciliation. Reconciliation is a budgetary tool that would allow Democrats to clear a bill with just 51 votes.
For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option, theyre talking about another entitlement program, and we cant afford that right now as a nation, Lincoln said in a speech to the Elder Law Task Force at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Im not going to vote for a bill thats not deficit-neutral, and Im not going to vote for a bill that doesnt do something about curbing the cost in the out years, because it would be pointless. ... I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We cant afford that.
But in an opinion piece she wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in July, Lincoln said the public insurance option should be included in health care reform legislation. A public insurance option would compete with private insurers to offer health care coverage.
Health care reform must build upon what works and improve inefficiencies. Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan, she wrote.
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