Tags: specter | public | option

Specter: Public Option Healthcare Gaining Support

Monday, 19 Oct 2009 02:33 PM

By Dan Weil

Senators and congressmen continue to stake out a wide range of views on a public option for healthcare reform.

It’s not just a conflict between parties. Democrats are split on the idea too. A public option refers to including a government-run insurance plan as one option Americans may choose under healthcare reform.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., said the public option is building support, while Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., continued to lobby for health insurance cooperatives instead.

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Specter said he’s not ready to accept a healthcare reform bill without a public option. "I'm not prepared to recede at all. I think the public option is gaining momentum. . . . I'm not going to step back a bit."

But Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said, “I will not support any public option tied to Medicare levels of reimbursement."

To be sure, Conrad said a compromise is possible along the lines of the public option "trigger" proposed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The idea there is that if a state doesn’t have two or more health insurance plans that cost less than 13 percent of a family's income, the public option will automatically be implemented in that state.

"There's at some point a principled compromise," Conrad said.

But Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, who also appeared on the Fox show, said a public option would be "a very heavy lift" to get through the Senate.

“Republicans reject the idea of government-run healthcare," he said, maintaining that even co-ops would be a "gateway to a government plan."

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