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.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.