September 11th, 2009
12:43 PM ET
13 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. Farmer

    The reason Americans spend less of their pay on food than any country in the world is because the gov`t keeps barely enough farmers in business to keep the frow of farm goods steady and cheap. Do you want food to wind up like the oil industry ????? ------IDIOT !!!!

    September 11, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. H

    Get rid of public option and all the democratics who want it or vote for it. Stop trying to jam things down out throats. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

    September 11, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. KingstonJam

    Well... Well the Democrates have been given their marching orders.

    President Obama please do right by the American people... that's why you were elected last November.

    Ignore the crazy, archaic Republicans, who have gotten lazy and fat over the years from the proceeds given to them by the medical industries.

    I'm hoping that my Republican friends will clean house 2010.

    September 11, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. JLS

    Hey Steny, how's ACORN doing in your state of Maryland??? Any more "stings" about to go down, with the arrest of more of them??

    September 11, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom

    September 11th, 2009 12:47 pm ET
    We need to end all farm subsidies now!!! They're just a socialistic way for the government to meddle in the free market. This will lead to a government takeover of agriculture!!! We are not a socialist country like Canada or Mexico!!! Have a nice day!
    Great comment from "Some republican guy"! Farm subsidies have been around for DECADES! And we are still a Free Democracy.

    But I agree, end farm subsidies, that money could be used to help our Nation offer healthcare to everyone who needs it.

    We ALSO NEED TO END Foreign Aid to Japan, South Korea, and the other nations we give BILLIONS to!

    Ending the wars would give us BILLIONS are home to pay OFF the Deficit, and again, pay for Healthcare!

    September 11, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Clay

    Some form my arse. Either we have a publc option or we don't. The time for mincing words is long past. Every democrat in Congress is a coward as far as I'm concerned and their republican counterparts are nothing more than thieves in the night. America is dead and the members of Congress killed it to get reelected. 2012 can't come fast enough for me. Perhaps the Mayans were smarter than most think. I sure hope so.

    September 11, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. No public option......

    no Socialism...... no big government....
    no new taxes......stop deficit spending.....

    September 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. jm


    When you serve in the military you receive government health care. I as a citizen of this great nation will gladly provide health care to any one who puts their life in the line for this country. If you're so jealous, either enroll in the military or shut up.

    September 11, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Tennessee Libertarian

    The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me — Ayn Rand.

    September 11, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. dave g

    Well, Social Security is working so well, and so is Medicare/Medicaid. So I'm really glad that we'll throw another unfundable plan on the books.

    At what point do Democrats and Republicans wake up and realize that we can't fund healthcare–or wars–or the whole pile of promises that have been made by the two parties in power.

    It's time for a change. Back to the fundamentals of the Constitution. The federal government shouldn't dictate who I can marry, whether or not I text while driving, how much money I can carry, or how I should or should not save for retirement. These are all decisions that I should be able to make, why have we given this power to the government? The Constitution clearly says that we retain all freedoms except for those that we allow the government to restrict. Have we as Americans fallen so low that we will give up the most basic of decisions to the Government? Do you really want Democrats or Republicans making these choices for you?

    September 11, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. mjm

    Can we set the trigger for 2075?

    September 11, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. frodo


    People are worried because there is a clause that if a company doesn't offer the public option, they will be taxed double digits. The fear is that then companies will have to offer it, and having offered it, and with Obama's claim that it will be the cheaper alternative, means that essentially you shift all people to the government plan. Sure, it's their choice, but by artificially fixing low prices and essentially mandating free marketing of the government program, no private program would survive.

    Look at IRAs and 401k's. Sure they're nice, but after the govt has taken so much for Social security, what's left for those alternatives...not much.

    September 11, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. Justin

    YES! Hoyer said the other day there probably wouldn't be a public option.
    I called his office and chewed out the intern he has answering his phones, and now he's saying there will be a public option!
    Democracy in action. It's a good feeling.

    September 11, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Tom Howarth

    My wife had to have chemo to deal with ovarian cancer. She had six infusions of drugs. A couple of days before the last infusion, our insurance carrier informed us that they would not pay for the last four treatments. Seems the doctor changed the medicine to avoid long-term side effects of the chemo, but the insurance company says the doctor used the wrong drug. From what medical school did the person who made this decision graduate? None, I presume. It is some comfort to know that after health care reform passes, this kind of thing will be illegal, but it might not pass in time to help us.

    September 11, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Kitchen Police

    Hey Bob in PA, I work hard, pay my taxes, and support health care reform. I also have a pre-existing condition (Multiple-Sclerosis) so what hateful language do you have for people like me who need health care reform???

    September 11, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Deborah Black

    I see the Republicans have come up with another "Catch phrase" now it's "the risky plan". Risk of what? That America will finally get good healthcare, affordable healthcare, choice in healthcare and security in healthcare;and not just the rich will have it? Or, is it risky because, all your big campaign doners and lobyists will be mad? You all that have taken millions from the Insurace Companies, Pharmaceutical Companies, and Health Care Chains are the only ones who are at risk.

    September 11, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Sue in Alabama

    Yeah, "Hypocrite", what You said!

    September 11, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Farrell in Houston

    ccc you're right, only the GOP is done, cooked and over with and they have done it all by themselves.

    September 11, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. Proud Member..Party of No

    Never mind what the lowly peasants wish, Premier Obama wants the public option.

    September 11, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Deuce

    Potato Soup, with many other ingredients? Some you make like, some you wont. But it is all a matter of taste. You will never know what you just swallowed..

    September 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. The Voice

    Does anybody get it??? Without public-option, there is no healthcare reform!!


    September 11, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Tony In Largo , FL

    Private companies, banks, and non profit organizations all exist and must always be inspected, audited and improved because there's always a bad apple in them that tries to commit fraud. It's happened since the dawn of time. That, however, doesn't mean that we can't benefit from their existence. The same holds true for the FDIC, USDA, VA, FAA, FCC, USDOT, NHSTB, FDA, OSHA, CDC, NRC, NASA, SBA, SEC, TVA, DEA, FBI, EPA, HUD, SS Adm, Medicare, Medicaid, the Forestry Service, the Interior Department, the Coast Guard, the Navy, The Air Force, the Army etc etc. The Government, meaning WE THE PEOPLE, and not aliens from outer space, run these same institutions and benefit from them now, just as our parents and grandparents did !!! This is a technologically advanced society that we have erected and this is what Affordable Health Care with a Public Option is all about. It's about a technological society that wants to take care of its own, over the greed of the big interest, represented in Congress by the Republican Party.

    Those who repeat the words spit out by the sub-culture radio pundits, including the drug addict and college drop out, should digest the meaning of the words that I have written here and realize that they are acting like parrots and are being used to parlay against something which is for their own good and the good of their heirs.

    The nations newspapers have classified Joe Wilson's allegations re: Health Care for illegal aliens as "Pants On Fire" outright Lies. They also classified the "death panels" as outright lies and on, and on, and on, it goes.

    This Health Care Bill with a Public Option is nothing more and nothing less than the action of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people".

    So, if you consider yourself the head of your household, and, are looking out for the benefit of your children, you should do nothing less than a reversal and call your Republican Senator and Congressman to tell them you want Afoordable Health Care with a Public Option!

    September 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Rob Johnson

    There you go. On a purely political level, Obama never really needed a lot of Republican votes on healthcare.

    What he needed was to get his OWN party behind him, rally them, and get them united. His speech this week did that, even if it didn't change many conservative minds.

    A health care bill will get passed this year. How much good it will do, or whether it will be worth passing once Congress gets done with it, is another matter. But they will get SOMETHING passed in Congress.

    September 11, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. AJ

    The "trigger" is not enough. Without the public option, there will be no meaningful health care reform. If the Democrats arent going to demand it, they need to stop wasting everyones time. The next question is why is Ben Nelson a Democrat? He needs to take his hateful Bible banging behind across the aisle where he belongs.

    September 11, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. WIll 18E

    I hope the public option comes.
    I will drop my individual HMO policy, for the government Option.
    I will expect to see my monthly payment cut in half. For the same coverage. For half of my payment every months, if not more, goes to the Broker, who gets 4 times as much as my Primary care Doc, executive, and CEO compensation, share holders, P.E. and an amount added to the Heath Care provider's corporate balance sheet, to create more equity for when those with stock options, there are outstanding share to be exercised.
    Thus diluting the stock, it's price, it's earning per share, thus the HMO lobby the state's capitols, seeking rate increase because they have lost money on paper.

    September 11, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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