October 16th, 2009
01:13 PM ET
5 years ago

Harkin: Final health care bill will have public option

Sen. Tom Harkin promised Friday that a health care bill will be on President Obama's desk before Christmas.
Sen. Tom Harkin promised Friday that a health care bill will be on President Obama's desk before Christmas.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democrat who chairs one of the Senate committees tasked with developing health care legislation, promised Friday that a health care bill will be on President Obama's desk before Christmas and will include a so-called "public option."

"I believe we are in an irrevocable position," Harkin said on a conference call organized by the health care reform group Families USA. "The momentum is there. We will not get stopped by the obstructionists. We will have the votes."

Harkin became chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after the former chairman, the late Ted Kennedy, passed away in September. His committee has already passed a more liberal version of the health care bill that includes a public option - legislation that will have to be merged with the bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week before the Senate can vote on final legislation. Democrats need sixty votes to end debate before a vote can held.

Pointing to a Thursday meeting of Senate Democrats in which most members of the caucus expressed support for a government-run insurance plan, Harkin said only five members of his party are holding up progress toward a such a plan.


"Should the five come on board with the vast majority?" Harkin asked. "I think the answer is clear."

But Harkin also said he was open to legislation that includes health care co-ops, as long as they are offered as a choice alongside a public option.

The Iowa Democrat estimated the final health care bill should cost $900 bill over 10 years and will mandate that all Americans purchase some kind of health insurance.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama • Tom Harkin
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. YBM

    THE DIFFERENCE IN A LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he won’t buy one. If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he tries to prevent everyone from having one. If a conservative is a vegetarian, he won’t eat meat. If a liberal is, he tries to ban all meat products for everyone. If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy. While a liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good. (Like the French) If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly enjoys his life. If a liberal is homosexual, he loudly demands legislated respect. If a black man or Hispanic is conservative, he sees himself as independently successful. His liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection. If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him. If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels. A liberal demands all talk show hosts they do not agree with be taken off the air. If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church. A liberal wants God banned from society. If a conservative needs health care, he goes shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that all his neighbors pay for his.--This guy nailed it!!

    October 16, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. YBM

    Even though the far-right and the not so educated think President Obama does not know what he is doing – he is doing what he planned all along……………….. GO OBAMA!!!!
    ----------------------------
    I see you are a RAWP, in any case, yes he is doing exactly what he planned all along, ruining this country. He is sending this country the same way the roman empire went and for the same reasons.

    October 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Scott L

    Cram this down America's throat and watch how fast the Democrats are thrown out of office in the next elections.

    Gonna be awesome to watch their party crumble.

    October 16, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. Stong Public Option

    Strong Public Option

    Keep Insurance Industry Competitive Public Option....

    Anything else is a waste of time.

    We the People Know it, We know what to loo for....

    Fail us, Fail yourself.

    American Taxpayers seeking the best services for their dollars.

    October 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Meh

    Pat> Wow, you're such a kind person. You probably call yourself a Christian, too. "Deport them all"? Do you realize how hateful that sounds? Probably not....

    As for this, I am glad someone else is standing up for the public option! Go, Harkin!

    October 16, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. seebofubar

    Hey Brian,
    Read the polls, only 35% to 40% of Americans are in favor of a public option and that number is declining fast. Don't worry buddy...you'll eventually wise up too.

    October 16, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Cnn please post my comment! 1 love!

    Give America the public option, PERIOD!

    October 16, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Wade

    And it will go down in flames in the Senate.
    A public option is nothing but a prelude to the complete takeover of the health care system by the feds... no thank you.

    I'll take my chances with the greedy insurance companies before I let a politician decide what kind of medical care I can get.

    October 16, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. FA

    Obama and his clan are determined to destroy our beautiful America. People please wake up and realize that the so called "public option" is NOT a very smart option for the growth and development of our nation. This is clearly socialism that even Europe nations are now becoming more conservative and are trying to run away from this unfair type of system. Socialism = more taxes!!!!!

    BEWARE!

    October 16, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. Preco

    Good talk paps!

    October 16, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Marie Laveaux

    As we say in New Orleans as an affirmation,"Yeah, you right!" And as for higher taxes, well make the people who don't pay enough taxes pony up...you know, the filthy rich executives who have every tax shelter known to mankind, unlike the rest of us middle-class guys.

    October 16, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. MJ

    Don't you just love Government Control... What is the big problem!!!
    Allow us to buy Insurance outside of our State .. Do away with preexisting conditions, Inforce Tort Reform, and stop the moronic ads from the Pharmaceutical Companies telling us how there Drug will kill us.

    October 16, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. YBM

    This whole Obama thing is real fishy. I am no Hillary Clinton fan but Obama should never have been able to beat her in the primaries. A first term junior Senator that spent his first two years voting present and his last two years campaigning for the office of President, against Hillary's experience and popularity? and winning???? That by itself smells, but then to win the presidency of the US??? This whole situation is rank. No thinking or intelligent person would have voted for this guy. I guess it shows the dumbing down of America is working. America is being sent the same way the Roman Empire went and for the same reasons. Only a lot faster. At least the Roman's had a thousand years or so.

    October 16, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Keith

    Everyone seems to hate the "Public Option". Let's call it the"Uninsured Option" and let Republicans do what they really want to do. Hate the uninsured...

    October 16, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. SC

    Good, Democrats! Keep up the good work. If you don't do something, you can't count on GOP to get good things done. Remember Dem accomplished Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid in this country. All things that Republicans know: 1) Guns 2) No Abortion 3) Terrorist 4) Tax Cut To The Rich.

    October 16, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. File under "Sarcasm"

    If the Democrats "have the votes", what have they been waiting for? They're great at making "the sky is falling" speeches claiming US healthcare is a disaster but they have no idea how to fix it other than make it a government entitlement with loopholes to prevent their key constituents (labor, lawyers, etc.) from paying for it. Their vision of fixing a flat tire is to call a tow truck to haul it to the junkyard while they buy a new car on credit.

    October 16, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. IndiePA

    It has been proven that government-run programs, such as social security, have not been run successfully. Even now, congressmen from both parties are draining what's left of social security for their own pork barrel schemes (including payment to illegal immigrants who have never contributed a penny).. They are no better than the insurance companies! So, hey, contribute your money (whatever's left) to the new healthcare initiative; then, when our children and grandchildren can no longer pay the bill, we can watch as some other grand scheme can be initiated by the government to take what's left. How stupid do they think we are??.....you need not ask when you have people who still support these ill-fated schemes....and I'm a registered Democrat.

    October 16, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. TH

    $900 million dollars for a government run health care program that Obama promised would not cost one additional cent. I do believe those were his words. What a LIIER Obama is!!

    October 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. Pre-existing condition

    Its about health care, ot profit. Bring on the public option.

    October 16, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Dan, TX

    This guy should be thrown out from Iowa. Come on Iowans. Wake up.

    October 16, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Lamonjello 4 Obama

    Public Option or else! I don't care if those hard working middleclass folks has to pay for it. We are entitled to it and it don't matter if it costs them more money out of their paychecks. We deserve it, it is our right!

    October 16, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. Canadian : Been there Done that!

    You want it because you don't know what it brings. I am canadian and I KNOW what it means.
    I HAVE government run healthcare.
    Almost everyone I know doesn't have there own Doctor, Iam one of the lucky ones. Most of my friends and relatives have to go to a clinic to see a doctor and get what ever Doctor is on duty.
    Itakes 3 or 4 weeks to get into see a doctor, that is why many go to the clinics.
    My son was in a serious head on car accident. He went through the windsheild of his car. He went by ambulance to the hospital (which he still owes 550.00 for)He waited for 8hrs in emergency, finally saw a doctor, he had a huge gash across both eyebrows and the skin from the eyebrow area was pushed up into his scalp. They told us there is no plastic surgeon available to fix his face. The emergency doctor sewed him up, they xrayed for broken bones, said he had none then they said they had no available beds to obsreve him for internal injuries and they sent him home with no perscription for infection or pain. I look at his face now and wonderif they have plastic surgeons in America.
    My Husband fell off a roof at work and was taken to hospital he wited 7 hours in emergency and even though he was passing blood, they had no beds at the hospital to observe him, they sent him home.
    My Son had a shoulder injury, he waited for weeks to get into the doctor, the doctor refered him to a specialist the waiting list to see the specialist was 1 year, The specialist finally saw him and told him he needed an operation, he would have to go on a waiting list it was a 2 year waiting list and from the time of the injury until now it is almost 3 years. he has not been able to work during this time and I have to support him.
    A good friend of mine has, or should I say HAD a son with serious diabetes, he needed to have a leg amputated he was put on a waiting list for that operation and he died on that list due to complications with gangarene.
    THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTH CARE IS.
    YOU WANT IT YOU CAN HAVE IT!

    October 16, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. ohno

    The only way I will be only unhappy, instead of completely unhappy, of a public option is if the gomer's in Washington DC have to have the same public plan I will be forced into. If those guys get some gold plated plan, and I only get some crappy public option I will be very unhappy. It almost makes sense for me to request a transfer to my companies European subsidiary. Taxes may be high, but at least I get a known deal, and do not have to worry about America's ridiculous government debt.

    October 16, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
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