September 11th, 2009
12:43 PM ET
9 years ago

Key Democrat predicts final health bill will have 'some form' of public option

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Democrats met Friday in hope of achieving consensus on one of the biggest sticking points in the health-care battle, the House majority leader predicted final legislation will include a "public option."

The question, Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN, is what form it will be in. "We'll have to see how that legislative process goes. The public option is a priority for us, it's our objective, and we think that in some form, a public option will be available," he said on CNN's "American Morning."

In recent days, the White House has been speaking with moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the Finance Committee
negotiators, about her idea for a "trigger mechanism" that would bring a public option in the future if health-care legislation fails to meet thresholds for expanding coverage and reducing costs, Snowe told CNN on Wednesday.

Moderate Democrats who are uneasy with a public option, such as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have said they could support a trigger mechanism. Such support could help a health-care bill gain the 60 Senate votes that would be necessary to overcome any filibuster attempt by Republicans.

The mechanism might also satisfy some liberal Democrats who previously described a public option as a necessity. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had argued that a bill wouldn't pass the House without a government-run public health insurance option.

But Pelosi and others have softened their language in recent days as the focus has turned more toward a compromise. "This is about a goal. It's not about provisions," Pelosi said Thursday, adding that so long as legislation meets goals of "affordability and accessibility and quality ... then we will go forward with that bill."

Republicans unanimously oppose including a public option as part of
initial steps. Some more conservative-leaning Democrats also express concerns
that it could be too much government involvement and could put private insurers
out of business through unfair competition.

President Barack Obama insists a public-option entity would act as a
non-profit that has to fund itself. He said it would help hold insurance
companies accountable.

"We want to see the public option in a bill passed from the House,"
Hoyer, D-Maryland, told CNN Friday. But he added, "we ought not to just focus
on that."

Asked whether he would ultimately support a bill without such an option,
Hoyer said, "I'm prepared to pass a health-care reform bill that provides
millions access to affordable, quality, health care.

"We think the public option is an important component of that. But
obviously you're going to have to have 218 votes in the house and you're going
to have to have at least a majority in the Senate to do that. We'll have to see
how that legislative process goes."

–CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care • Olympia Snowe
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. Willy Brown

    The democrats will stop at nothing to ruin America

    September 11, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. NPO

    Public option = waste, unsustainable economics, fraud, overload of medical system, end up as a single pay system, end up covering non citizens and a bad idea.

    September 11, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Predicta

    Steny Hoyer must be high on crack again....Public option, in any form, is bill will pass the Senate with any type of public option.

    September 11, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Nagudcm Sugna

    To GS: Companies will drop this very expensive benefit if there is someone else willing to pick-up the tab. i.e., the Government. Just think it through instead of blindly following.

    September 11, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Public option now!

    Critics on this comment list have it backwards. If Dems *don't* pass some form of public option, they will face election challenges. Red staters just can't grasp the fact that most of the country does not share their views; they are a minority that is getting ever smaller. On some level they do know it though, which is why they lash out in blind rage. You guys are going to have to get over it and start paying attention to facts, not just assuming that everything Rush Limbaugh says is true.

    September 11, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Sam Sixpack

    Hoyer didn't get the memo – this fiasco has killed meaningful health care reform for years to come. All we have to look forward to for now are REQUIRED payments to fat, rich, greedy insurance execs for services we will be denied. You have been scammed – again.

    September 11, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. gone astray...

    America has gone astray...why ? no leadership from the HILL or the
    WHITYE HOUSE..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 11, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. panem et circenses, but CNN won't post

    ccc September 11th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

    i (s/b caps) agree (missing punctation) if all this (s/b these) GOP rats are against the (unneeded) health care (s/b one word) than (s/b then) cancel your own health care (s/b one word) (missing conjunction "and") go with private insurance than (s/b then) you will get dropped!!!!! on (s/b caps) your face (missing comma) idiot (sentence fragment)…. GOP is done for (missing article "a") long time!!!

    ccc September 11th, 2009 12:55 pm ET

    we (s/b caps) are going to get this done this year and we are going to get (missing article "the") GOP out of out (s/b our?) government!!!!!!! we (s/b caps) dont (missing apostraphe) need thos (spelling – those) idiots here (missing punctuation depending on your intent) we need smarter people to take over (missing article "the") Republican Party and clean out those (huh?) trash (missing punctuation)


    Dude, take a night course in English if you want to be taken seriously when suggesting that "smarter people" like you should take over.

    September 11, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. jnywest

    I and my friends and family here in Portland, OR are very clear on this issue. We voted for Obama and the Dems to produce some sort of public funded heathcare system for Americans. We know it to be the right thing to do in the long run.
    If this Pres. and congress back down becuase of Racism, Ignorance, and petty politics there will be an entire west coast that is very upset and unlikely to be supportive of Obama in the future.
    It is times like this when we have to stand up to fools like Joe Wilson and the republician leadership. It is as if we are trying to escape a burning building; but they are trying to get us to run back into it instead of following Obama out of it to safety.

    September 11, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. In case you forgot

    YES to Healthcare!!! And, CNN, nice one on Wilson. Except you failed to mentioned his opponent, Rob Miller, has already raised more than 1 million overnight, and counting...

    September 11, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. jo

    Peiosi Reid and OBA do stupidthink

    September 11, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Kat

    Bob in Pa


    This option that will be offered is not a free option. If you don't have health insurance and your employer does not offer health insurance or you lost your job and you need insurance for your family until you find another job you can purchase the public option at a cheaper rate than from a private insurance company. The public option is not free there is a cost for this insurance it is not a hand out. The people you are talking about are probably already on Medicare or Medicaid.

    I just wanted to clarify that for you.

    September 11, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Carmen, Miami FL

    Bottom line: my health care dollars shouldn't be going to pay million-dollar salaries/bonuses for CEOs, it should go to pay for health care. Period. We need a public option, or else we'll know the insurance companies paid millions for a weak bill.

    September 11, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Anonymous


    September 11, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. jim

    Not to change the subject, but I will anyway. You blew the coast guard story. I call it who,what where, when and why. How about telling the truth CNN. YOUR HAST TO GRAB HEADLINES MADE YOU LOOK FOOLISH. Try and get it right.

    September 11, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. eolufemi

    They better get a public option in there. You can't mandate that people pay a private business for something they may not need personally, and then offer no government option without a profit motive.

    School is mandatory for children, imagine if they mandated that people pay for private school. What incentive would private schools have to make it affordable?

    September 11, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. HGL

    I think a lot of people have never been with out healthcare insurance and they will not understand this debate until they have no coverage. Some if not all insurance has lousy coverage. Premiums are outrageous, coverage is minimal. If you loose your job forget it, you can not afford to buy insurance.
    I just don not understand why some people do not want good healthcare for all citizens.

    September 11, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. center left

    Will the Democrat stop fooling around. There are millions of people with prexisting conditions and out of work that have to have a Public Option. No private insurance is going to take that risk. Just do it!

    September 11, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    The KEY for any health bill is how to cover all the uninsured and underinsured. What we need to make sure is that we as a nation have a healthy citizenry. It is cheaper in the long run to make sure people have regular checkups, get their required innoculations, even get their vision and hearing checked regulary....If any has NOT noticed, vision coverage is not that good for those that have insurance, and there is no insurance for checking your hearing, getting hearing aid devices, surgery if needed, etc. Vision and hearing are two of the 5 basic senses and all are basically a "pre-existing" condition. In fact, when you really think about it....each and every person already has some form of a pre-existing condition the minute they are born. So, the insurance companies have been very discriminating for decades, not realizing that these conditions exist in everyone.

    September 11, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. LIBERAL and Proud of It!

    What person in their 'right' mind would oppose Health Care reform? Question, if rethuglicans had of opposed gwb LIE to America about the war, like they do with anything the current President proposes, we wouldn't have been bankrupted or lost the lives of so many soldiers and Iraq citizens.

    September 11, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Obama's speech had nothing but voodoo economics on how we pay for the biggest welfare giveaway in our history. He's trying to build a permanent majority of people dependent on government handouts. Time for all of us who actually pay their taxes to tell our representative to vote no, or be gone next year.

    September 11, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Emma

    Corporations are NOT required now to offer health insurance. Do you know why they offer coverage......THEY GET A TAX CREDIT for their share of the premiums that they pay. This is money in their pockets and I don't know anyone who gives up tax credits.

    This is what the Republicans are pushing, tax credits to purchase insurance.......this will NOT solve the cost. Everyone talks about corporations adding or dropping coverage. Have you not heard of "OPEN ENROLLMENT?" This is where corporations and various governments offer their workers an opportunity to sign up for coverage for the following year. We are doing now exactly what the Republicans say will cause Corporations to drop coverage.

    Think American for yourself.

    September 11, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Rob Selby

    Joe Wilson is a right-wing racist. And, a redneck to boot.

    September 11, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Vote out all republicans!

    gt – well we can blame the republicans for is destroying and bankrupting this country, bank bailouts, deregulation, a war based on a lie and the world hating us. Why do republicans hate the truth??

    September 11, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Merle

    The government will madate that every person have insurance.
    there are 5 separate parts of the current bill that either penalize Insurance companies, or lefts any restrictions. insurance will go belly up. there is also a provision that businesses can either have coverage for thier workers, or pay a fine. most will pay the fine becasue it is cheaper then insuring the workers. That leaves the "public" option as the only choice. thats how if they allow any sort of public option, it will grow exponentially as the insurance companies go under, one by one.

    September 11, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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