Senate Democrats Confident Bill Will Include Some Public Option

Posted October 25, 2009 at 11:21am

Senate Democrats on Sunday appeared increasingly confident that a form of publicly funded insurance will be included in the overall health care package the chamber will take up in the coming weeks.”I think we are very close to getting the 60 votes we need to move forward,” Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.—Schumer, who strongly favors including a government-run option in the overall health care bill, said that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is “leaning strongly— to including such an option, with language that allows states to opt out of the program.But Reid will have to win over moderate Democrats to include such a plan. On CNN’s “State of the Union,— Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he is not yet ready to commit his support for the bill — which he noted is still being drafted — and has not promised to vote against a potential Republican filibuster.“I have made no promise,— Nelson said. “I can’t decide about [cloture] until I have seen the underlying bill.—Nelson said, “I clearly am not excited about a public option where states would have to opt out,— though he would “take a look at— a bill that allowed states to opt in to a public option.Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a public option supporter, predicted the Senate will “vote on a number of choices— when the health care bill hits the floor as a way “to get more moderate Senators into the fold.—Still, “I’m focused on these costs,— she said on ABC’s “This Week.—Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to the bill’s price tag and potential tax increases as cause for concern.“Wholly aside from the debate over whether the government gets into the insurance business, the core of the proposal is a bill that the American public clearly does not like,— McConnell said on “This Week.—McConnell pointed to the Senate’s vote against a $247 billion Medicare reimbursement bill last week as evidence that cost concerns are reaching a boiling point.All Republicans and 13 Democrats voted last Wednesday against a procedural motion to move to the bill.“What I do know is that all the nervousness is on the Democratic side. You saw that last week, and with 13 Democratic defections on this effort, to do this Medicare reimbursement issue without paying for it, by sending the bill to our grandchildren,— McConnell said.National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said on “Meet the Press— that the Democratic defections on the Medicare vote raise questions about how much support Reid will be able to get for a government-run health care option, which Cornyn called a “Trojan horse of a single-payer system.—McCaskill said the Medicare vote should not be “any indication to America that we’ve lost the will to move forward.—