October 25th, 2009
12:08 PM ET
12 years ago

Senate likely to consider various versions of public option

(CNN) - The Senate will consider several versions of a government-run public health insurance option in the chamber's upcoming debate on a health care bill, a Democratic senator predicted Sunday.

"I think what we're going to end up with is having votes on a number of choices," Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told the ABC program "This Week."

According to McCaskill, the alternatives would include giving states the ability to opt out of a not-for-profit public option, or reversing that dynamic by allowing states the choice of opting in to such a program.

Another alternative would be the so-called "trigger mechanism," McCaskill said. That idea - batted around in Congress for weeks - would mandate a public option in the future if specific thresholds for expanded coverage and lower costs go unmet by a certain time.

The goal is to come up with a plan that can overcome a filibuster in the chamber, said McCaskill, who supports including a public option in the health care bill.

"I'd be less than honest if I didn't say all of us were concerned about making sure we get the votes to move forward," McCaskill said. "But I remain pretty optimistic."

On the same program, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky reaffirmed his party's unanimous opposition to a public option.

"I think 100 percent of Republicans have indicated they don't think having the government in the insurance business is a good idea," McConnell said.

Filed under: Health care • Senate
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. JES

    The Baucus health care bill has so many phony accounting procedures in it that it if someone in the private sector used them, they would be sent to jail.

    You just have to remember that this Congress, creating an $830 billion entitlement and promising that it won't add a cent to the deficit. Nor will it grow exponentially. Say, like Medicare did.

    This is Congress saying that raising $500 billion in new health care taxes won't increase the cost of your health care. Uh huh.

    Nor will the $400 billion in spending cuts, primarily to Medicare, affect grandma's coverage.

    Nor will adding 11 million people to the states' Medicaid roles bankrupt the states. Just ask California.

    And then there are the uninsured. Remember them? They started all this.

    Well, the Congressional Budget Office projects that 10 years after starting on Dr. Obama's Elixir, there will still be 25 million uninsured. You read that right.

    A third will be illegal immigrants, who can't participate in this program – wink, wink – but can still visit our ERs for treatment. The 16 million Americans left uninsured will be fined for being uninsured, which will raise $4 billion to help pay for the program.


    In the beginning, I wanted to think that these clowns could, or would, do the right thing. Now it's obvious that they either don't know what they are doing OR they are intentionally trying to transform America into a socialist bureaucracy.

    Stand up, speak out, defend America.

    October 25, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. Larry

    The public option is an example of a society banding together to take care of itself. The concept of "every man for himself" is caveman style thinking, which seems to be exactly what the Republicans are doing. We were burdened with Bush for eight years, which was enough time for him to drag down our society. Here's hoping the right-wing Neanderthals become extinct.

    October 25, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Marva

    My husband and I are covered by a government-sponsored health program ... Tricare. We are more fortunate in that we participate in Tricare STANDARD – WE choose our physician, our hospital, etc. Tricare PRIME, which is mandatory now for active service members and those who retired after a specific date, provides a list of "member physicians" from which those individuals select their physician and hospital. We consider ourselves "more fortunate" because, frankly, there are very few "member" physicians and hospitals in the Tricare Prime network. It is necessary that we purchase a supplemental health insurance plan to cover the 25% that Tricare Standard does not cover .. and that premium just increased 10% last month. Bottom line: we are all entitled to CHOICES, especially when we pay the premiums.

    If the government is going to MANDATE that everyone purchase health insurance, we must have a public option! Otherwise, the insurance industry has just been handed a windfall in terms of profits and no incentive to compete for the additional policyholders ... there will be MILLIONS of consumers from which to profit! An "opt out" option is meaningless ... in those states which are "republican-run", those citizens will not benefit from a public option – those legislators will "opt out" on principal ... they will not vote for anything that Obama has proposed. They complain they are being left out of negotiations, but, if a group shows up at meetings to present nothing but arguments against a proposal without presenting a valid, reasonable alternative, they are not negotiating in good faith. Tort reform is not the answer ... not a single representative from the insurance industry has been willing to put in writing that caps on damages will reduce premiums. True COMPETITION will reduce premiums ... if the insurance industry must cap its expenditures, i.e., salaries, benefits, retainers for in-house attorneys, etc., to truly compete with a government-sponsored public option, premiums will be reduced.

    Frankly, it is past time that the issue of offering a "public option" is put to a vote – OF THE PEOPLE. The politicians are not willing to listen to their constituents ... they are listening to their respective party and looking ahead to 2010. Health reform is necessary. It is going to cost a lot of money. The taxpayers – not the politicians – will be paying the bill. Let the taxpayers vote!

    October 25, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. Bob

    The two biggest health insurers in the country are the VA and Medicare. The government does well managing health care but the congress does poorly at funding them. Just remove the anti-trust exemption for health care insurers, make them compete like any other business and prices will come down.

    October 25, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. johnlloydscharf

    This "Public Option" is newspeak for a government option.

    If this were a democracy, these issues that affect us all would be left up to each state to hold a referendum and let the people vote. As is, we are being held hostage by "representatives" that fail to represent. We cannot recall them. We can vote them out only every two years. I can change insurance companies without a revolution. I do not my medications delivered by the government that sends me the mail addressed to others.

    October 25, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Sari

    How many parents of cancer patient kids cringe every time they see a letter in their insurance companies letterhead, afraid that their daughter/son is going to lose their coverage and die? We need to have a backup for these good people who make more than Medicaid allows, and for their very sick children. That's why we need a public option.

    October 25, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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