Public Option Excluded From Health Care Revisions

Republicans are forcing votes on a flurry of amendments to the revisions package to the health care bill. The amendments range from relevant to health care to politically motivated. One by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would outlaw the pregnancy-preventing morning after pill. The other part of the measure would be difficult for any lawmaker to reject: prohibiting convicted pedophiles from purchasing Viagra. The move is tactical. Republicans could use it in a campaign ad that accuses Democrats of supporting Viagra for sex offenders.

Democrats are dismissing these measures as political traps.  “Each amendment offered is to kill health reform,” said Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on the Senate floor. If any changes are made to the measure, it goes back to the House of Representatives. The House passed both the comprehensive health care reform and the so-called “fixes” bill Sunday night. The reform package was signed into law and the fixes bill must be passed by the Senate.

It is not only Republican amendments Democrats are denouncing, but their own party’s as well. One popular measure on the Democratic chopping block is the public option — a government run alternative to compete next to private insurance programs.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) supports the public option. He said it needs to be shelved for the time being because its acceptance would “neither get the public option nor the ultimate bill that we are seeking, which is health care reform.” Menendez said, “There will be other opportunities.”

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in February asking that the public option be included in the so-called “fixes” bill. Senator Bennet has received the support of two dozen fellow signatories and the verbal support of a dozen more Senate Democrats.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote public option supporters and promised them a vote on the public option in “the coming months” if they dropped their demands for a vote during the reconciliation process.

It appears that Democrats have acquiesced and agree with the strategy

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the public option would not be offered as a part of the reconciliation bill. “If a public option is offered as an amendment today, I will vote against it, even though I am for it because the greater good is getting the bill passed,” Harkin said.

Public interest groups and unions who were vocally opposed to health care reform with out a public option, are singing the same tune as Senate Democrats.

“This is not the time to reopen previous battles. We fought for many things, including the public insurance option, but to pass health care, we’ve all had to compromise,” said Chuck Loveless, with the American Federation of State County and Local Employees.

Under Senate rules, an unlimited number of amendments to alter the bill can be offered. How many Republicans offer could depend on how much stamina they have to vote continuously through the night.  The Senate is expected to vote until the early morning hours.

You can follow Leigh Ann Caldwell on Twitter and hear an audio version of this story on FSRN.


5 Responses to Public Option Excluded From Health Care Revisions

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    +2 Vote -1 Vote +1uberVU - social comments

  2. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1M Keller
    March 24, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Why is Obama, Pelosi, Reid and certain staff members excluded from this health care bill? If they think this crap is good enough for all Americans then it should be good enough for them as well…..but then again, maybe they can’t be considered Americans if they force these bills through with bribes knowing that most real Americans don’t want it!!!!!!!!

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Kellie Hahn
    March 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote public option supporters and promised them a vote on the public option in “the coming months” if they dropped their demands for a vote during the reconciliation process.
    We will not hear a public option for another 30 years. I want to be wrong but I’m not.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1ettucat
    March 27, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Social Security and Medicare are just two of the “entitlement/social programs,” forced on the American citizens by the Libs/Progressive, which are now unsustainable. The thieves in power in DC have now devised a means to form new pools of money, and provides them a means to hide the sins of their past mistakes. This is done under the guise of making your life better. In truth, your quality of life will be diminished, both financially and physically.

    Built into every piece of legislation passed are protections for those who write, and pass, the laws. They always seem to find a way to exempt themselves from the rules, regulations, and MANDATES, that they believe are GOOD ENOUGH for the rest of us. WAKE UP, AMERICA. You do not want these radicals telling you how much BANG you will get for YOUR BUCK.

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