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. liberalshavenoballs

    And the public option will be the death nail of Tom Harkin in Iowa and the Senate. $10-12 trillion in debt and climbing thanks to buffoons like Harkin, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, and all of the other politicians that thinks money grows on trees. Remember future elections and the poor decisions made the afore mentioned that are bankrupting this country. May sanity return to Washington soon.

    October 16, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. sick and tired!!!!!

    It should, or there will be no real reform!!!!

    October 16, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. N

    go for broke, then the next thing you will be complaining about is, why you dont have a choice in anything, but you have insurance. It's not going to be I'm looking for the right job, it's going to be you take the job your given B@@#. And you will like it.

    October 16, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Joe

    You are bound and determined to bankrupt the US. All you who support it will feel the pain for years to come as will your children. When all is said and done you will be so digusted with the public option that you will rue the dyayou all supported it.....

    October 16, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Dean

    Finally someone who grew a set and can stand up to the re thugs

    October 16, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. T'SAH from Vriginia

    PUBLIC OPTION or BUST!!!

    President Obama knew exactly what he was doing when he allowed this debate to go on over the summer!!! He got EVERYONE involved in the debate – far-right, far-left, independents, not so far-right, not so far-left – EVERYONE!!! And what that did was make a HEALTHY DEBATE about the REFORM and now President Obama has the LAST WORD... President Obama will have the PUBLIC OPTION included in the final bill just like he promised in his campaign.... CASE in POINT!!!!

    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!!!!

    October 16, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Sean

    Good. The American people favor it, so it should be there.

    October 16, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Rob

    It HAS to have a Public Option to be effective and worthwhile.

    October 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. roger

    The only way to have competition is to have a public option. The only other way to control rates is for the government to step in and set mandatory rates and coverages! The ins. industry was going to self regulate back in the '90's, and we can see how well that worked out. If it had worked, and they had been fair and honest, we wouldn't be having this conversation

    October 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Speaking for Liberals

    It looks and sounds like the Democrats grew a set overnight. I am glad they did. Now dig in and remember. We want Medicare for everybody! AKA The Public Option.
    the people who voted you into power are still with you
    FIGHT!

    October 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    Senator, I have a better question. Instead of "Should the five come on board with the vast majority?" The question should be "should the five vote according to the wishes of the folks who voted them in? I KNOW the answer is clear. YES!

    October 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Edwin

    I hope so.

    October 16, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. New Yorker

    The "public option" will eventually be the only option except for our "elite" congressmen & women who will have a much better plan (payed for by us, the taxpayers), and the wealthy. Like education, only the wealthy can afford private schools for their children. Too bad my children couldn't attend the elite school that Obama's girls attend.

    I wonder if you fools that elected Obama will ever realize the mess he will make of this country if he gets his agenda through.

    To FORCE Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitiution and therefore un- American.

    October 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. New Yorker

    The "public option" will eventually be the only option except for our "elite" congressmen & women who will have a much better plan (payed for by us, the taxpayers), and the wealthy. Like education, only the wealthy can afford private schools for their children. Too bad my children couldn't attend the elite school that Obama's girls attend.

    I wonder if you fools that elected Obama will ever realize the mess he will make of this country if he gets his agenda through.

    To FORCE Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitiutional and therefore un-American.

    October 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. The Voice

    With no public option the "special interest" wins!

    Cannot allow big health insurance to continue to price gouge Americans.

    October 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. John Forde

    Who are the five?

    October 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. Questions, questions, questions

    The insurance industry has had over 60 years to demonstrate its mythical effenciency. Is the insurance industry so imcompetent that after all that time they are still unable to demonstrate effenciency? The answer to that question is a resounding "YES THEY ARE!", which begs the question; Why are we listening to an industry that is so inept at their very function when it comes to determining how that function should be handled in the future?

    October 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Questions, questions, questions

    The insurance industry is spending over a million dollars per day to oppose the public option. I wonder how many people that they've denied claims to would have covered if it was actually used for the very service they are supposed to be providing? That figure does not include the millions given in campaign contributions, essentially bribing certain members of congress to oppose the public option.

    Imagine if all the money insurance corporations spend on...
    A) television ads opposing the public option,
    B) bribes to members of congress,
    C) lawyers finding loopholes within the existing laws,
    D) lawyers creating loopholes within the health insurance plans the company offers,
    E) lawyers defending the company when they drop people's coverage and,
    F) lobbysts...
    were actually used to provide health care.

    October 16, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. Questions, questions, questions

    Can someone, anyone, name me one good reason to have insurance corporations standing between U.S. citizens and health care.

    October 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Questions, questions, questions

    On claims that our health care and health insurance system is just fine the way it is:
    If you do have insurance under our current system...
    Who rations your care now? (The insurance companies).
    Who takes more of your money every year without increasing benefits? (The insurance companies.)
    Who continues to increase executive pay and priviledge while denying coverage? (The insurance companies).

    Be mad at the insurance companies, not the government. You are letting your outrage get turned toward the wrong institution. Don't be fooled.

    October 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Angus McDugan

    Watch this...

    BUSH

    Now nobody will read this line because that are focused on the line above. I could say or day anything after I throw Bush's name out. Wow! What a great way to divert attention.

    October 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Questions, questions, questions

    Is it better for the United States to spend 1 trillion dollars over 10 years making war on some brown people - after all, they are different than us! - or to spend 1 trillion dollars over 10 years providing health care for its citizens?

    October 16, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Questions, questions, questions

    If you want government out of your lives or the government to shrink, help us all out by not using any government services. Stop using the post office, the fire department, and national parks. Demand that we get rid of the police departments and the coast guard. Tell your congressional leaders "no more spending on the military" (which, after all, is a government run program). Stop driving on the roads the government provides. Stop using municipal water (if you do) and certainly stop using the government regulated utilities. Open all the prisons and free the prisoners. And don't forget to insist that you be removed entirely from Social Security. If you currently receive social security, stop accepting checks and stop using Medicare. And please pull your children out of public schools. Don't even get me started on public transportation. Oh, and stop paying your income taxes immediately... that'll get you out of having a hand in providing for the government services listed above.

    Why is it that we trust our education, library service, fire protection, postal service, public safety, national safety, regulatory agencies, retirement funding, and health care for the elderly to the government, yet we do not trust our government to help the non-elderly people with a public option for health care? If we lived by the logic opposing the public option we would be living in a burning mire of stupidity that is consistently sick and forever being attacked by other nations. What is the use of educating and protecting a society that cannot agree the best thing for itself if that every single citizen is healthy and productive? The best way for a capitalistic society to flourish is to have people alive and well putting money back into the system. People going bankrupt over medical bills is not good for the system.

    Isn't it strange that many of the same people that say we should not trust our government put their trust in our government when they send their sons and daughters off to war to die for their country? Something is very wrong with this type of thinking.

    October 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Questions, questions, questions

    Tort reform does not work.

    Texas - you know, the state that gave us Pres. George H.W. Bush and Pres. George W. Bush - has had Tort reform for quite some time. You'll notice the insurance premiums in Texas haven't lowered. In fact, Texas has the largest (by percentage) amount of citizens that have no coverage at all.

    Any sane, logical thinking person would realize that tort reform is yet another red herring and has done nothing to actually lower premiums and deductibles, nor has it improved coverage.

    October 16, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Questions, questions, questions

    Any Christians out there opposing the public option?
    What ever happened to learning from the Bible?
    It is your God-given duty to take care of your fellow man. Did Jesus ever pause to make sure those he was curing had adequate coverage? Did Jesus ever deny procesures as a cost-cutting measure meant to pad the bottom line financially?
    Or did Jesus cure all who needed it, regardless of station in life or financial means?
    How about you Christians opposing the public option start acting Christ-like more rather than less. When you get to heaven and Jesus asks you why you were so adamant that your neighbors not be cured of what ails them, what will you tell Him?

    Who among those opposed to the public option is willing to own up to the fact that they are so evil they do not care if their fellow Americans die from illness and injury specifically because of a lack of health care?

    October 16, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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