October 26th, 2009
03:27 PM ET
12 years ago

BREAKING: Reid backs health care public option

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/26/art.reidpublic.gi.jpg caption="The Senate Majority Leader announced Monday that he intends to move forward with a health care bill that includes the 'opt out' version of the public health insurance option."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) –Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that he intends to move forward with a health care bill including a public insurance option allowing states to opt out.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has been melding legislation from the more conservative Senate Finance Committee and the more liberal Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The Health Committee included a form of the public option in its bill; the Finance Committee did not.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the House of Representatives will pass a health care reform bill including a public option.

President Barack Obama has indicated his preference for legislation including a public option, but has not indicated he would a veto a bill without one. Several top Democrats have previously expressed concern that the traditionally conservative Senate would not pass a bill with a public option.

The public option is "not a silver bullet," but will ensure healthy competition and a more level playing field for consumers, Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. Public opinion polls show that a wide majority of Americans support a public option, he said.

Reid's health care bill, which will be given a cost assessment by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, also includes a provision from the Finance Committee bill allowing for the creation of non-profit health care cooperatives that would negotiate collective insurance coverage for members.

Reid hopes his compromise will appeal both to liberal senators insisting on a public option and to conservatives wary of a government-run plan, several Democratic sources said.

The sources told CNN that Reid does not yet have firm commitments for the compromise from 60 senators - the number required to break a Republican-led filibuster.

It is likely he would need that number for even a vote to begin Senate debate.

Reid's strategy of publicizing his intention is risky, multiple sources also said. A Reid aide told CNN Sunday, however, that the majority leader is cautiously optimistic, based on a series of conversations with Democratic senators, that he will ultimately find the votes.

"I believe we ... will have the support of my caucus," Reid said Monday.

An administration official went so far as to call Reid's move "dangerous," but quickly followed by saying Reid knows his caucus better than anyone, and will therefore have the support of the White House.

Full story

Filed under: Democrats • Harry Reid • Health care • Popular Posts • Senate
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Jeff in Virginia

    Quick, somebody call the press! the Senate Majority Leader found his spine!

    Oh wait, I am reading the press.. Way to go CNN!

    October 26, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Tony in Dallas

    Ride on Reid, you are listening to the American people who voted you into power and who would be willing to do it again, long as you are listerning. Good job, we are all watching and waiting to see any Dem who would vote against it.

    October 26, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Adam

    More power to the majority leader. This is something most Americans have been waiting for (see the latest ABC/Washington Post poll), and it's high time Reid flex his muscles.

    Policy analysts on both sides of the aisle have said a "trigger option" - reverting to a public option if the bill's other provisions fail - will be an unworkable and ineffective solution.

    President Obama seems to believe the value of keeping Sen. Snowe on board outweighs the benefits of a bill with an opt-out public option. It does not. Republicans will laugh at any Administration claims that the bill is "bipartisan" on the basis that a single moderate Republican voted for it.

    But being remembered for watering down the bill so that one political opponent could support it will be an embarrassing legacy for the administration and will do much less to help hard-working yet struggling Americans.

    Passing an opt-out option, which allows the plan to prove its efficacy to the most conservative states, will provide real support to those who need - and deserve - it most. Kudos to Sen. Reid.

    October 26, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Good boy Reid....now show us you've got a pair and don't back down....it's time for the GOPers, neocons and the rest of the fear mongers to get their comeuppance.

    October 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. ran

    They need to have a public option period. States should not be dictating who should have this option. The Public option should be in the exchange that is being talk about and the individual and or employer should be able to pick it if they want it.

    Other wise every republican Gov. or Republican control state will op out leaving those wanting the option in those states without the option.

    what is this all about. Just make it an option and if you need to, go to the 51 vote option. Then let the voters take care of the "'blue dogs" and any Republican who votes against this.

    Too much compromise will get us nothing of real value. We should be getting single payer non-profit universal health care now.

    Our health should not be for profit.

    October 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Mia & Mike

    Another giant leap for mankind: very well done Mr. Reid, now let's get this bill fully passed so that we may ensure adequate healthcare for our nation's citizens. Everyone that is up in arms about this bill needs to seriously humble themselves and realize that without the preservation of our most precious assets- especially children, but all Americans as a whole- we will not have the intelligence to compete in this global world and protect our great nation. Quit being foolish you guys. This bill is a must and has been long overdue. Throwing money at wars, nuclear powers, world powers, etc.will only go so far. We've been an industrialized nation for far too long not to have realized this. Our people are our best natural resources and it's about time Congress realized this.

    October 26, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Lacrosse Mama not for Obama from Bad Newz, VA

    Political Suicide. Harry Reid will NEVER get re-elected next year.

    October 26, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Pepou

    ABOUT TIME. 62% of Americans want the public option,

    October 26, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is a start. The question is: what kind of shape will this public option take? There are a lot of questions as to what will and won't be in this plan. I hope more details come out.

    October 26, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Cherie

    AND use reconciliation if you have to Senator. Keep pointing out that George HW Bush and the Republicans did the same thing in passing legislation they wanted. Thanks for growing a pair. Now all Dems need to do the same and stop running scared. The people of the U.S. WANT and DESERVE a public option.

    October 26, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Lillie

    Thank YOU Sen Reid!!!!

    October 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Zeb

    About time!!!! What the Democrats need to do is to let these recalcitrant Blue Dogs know that if they expect to get support from the Democratic Party in the next elections, they had better line up with the Party, or they are left to fend for themselves. Let's see how successful they would be trying to win an election as a Republican or as an Independent.... and if they do, more power to them.

    October 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Well, so much for passing health care "reform"–Reid has "reformed" it past the tolerance of most Americans. Sensible people know the country can't afford to waste a trillion bucks turning health care into yet another expensive entitlement for the so-called "poor" at the expense of those who actually work for a living.

    October 26, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Charles

    The majority of Americans want the public option. To our elected officials - do not fail us on this!

    October 26, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Will the option apply to states that begin with a "U"?

    October 26, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Carole

    BRAVO!!! Now let's see what the party of NO (GOP) spends on the crazy tea parties along with the bloodsucking insurance companies.

    Newt Gingrinch on CSPAN was laughable. Newt: "The Democrats were not elected; the Republicans were fired.' Really Newt? Then why is it that only 20% or less confess to being Republicans? Maybe same theory of family values of your GOP = Sanford, Ensign, Vitter, Craig, and YOU too Newt!

    October 26, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. gt

    flip a coin ,,,,thats real leadership..... pitful ....

    October 26, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Maria

    I am in favor of the public option. I am so discusted with the insurance companies and their scare tactics to the American public and especially senior citizens.
    Please, please America, do not believe the Insurance Companies. They aren't getting much from lobbying, so they are spending massive amounts of money to break down the fragile American public.

    October 26, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Truth Teller

    I never doubted it.

    October 26, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. tjaman

    Thanks Harry. Once again it's up to the House, the representatives of The People, to give this thing the teeth it needs to actually work. Next stop, Conference!

    October 26, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. PJ

    So, exactly what will allow a state, like say Illinois, which has two Democratic Senators, a Democratic Governor, and a large minority metropolitan population which propelled Obama to the White House, to opt out. If you research the county by county results from the '08 election, most of Illinois counties did not want this kind of change to America. But we are hamstrung by Chicago. So when are the middle-class, non-minority, not inner city dwelling Americans going to get their relief. Answer, never. This is a take-over – just call it for what it is. Obama was exposed for the socialist he is several times on the '08 campaign. Nobody in the media would bother with this information. So here we are. Have a nice day.

    October 26, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Matt

    A public option doesn't reduce the cost of healthcare (pay 10 years for 5 years of healthcare, move over $250B from the bill to a different bill to 'pay off' doctors taking Medicare...) and it won't cover 2/3 of the people currently uninsured. Fix Medicare first and then maybe we'll trust you with 18% of the economy.

    Obama, Reid and Pelosi are in such a hurry to fulfill a campaign promise that they don't care who it hurts or how bad it is for the economy/USA.

    Reform healthcare one problem at a time, starting with TORT reform, electronic medical records, allowing insurance companies to cross state borders...

    October 26, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The part about the states being able to opt out of the Public Option option does not sit well with me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but all I can see down the road are the insurance 'lobbyists' lobbying at the state level versus the federal to keep the Public Option out of the states. If the Healthcare Reform is passed in this manner there will be little if any recourse for an ammendment, or for the citizens of the various states that may cave-in to the pressure of the $$$$ from the insurance companies.

    October 26, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Idiot_Pelosi

    Harry Reid is a moron, on the way out. He'll be sitting in the UnEmployment line in 13 months.

    October 26, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. C Sumpter

    I'm happy Reid has the guts to take the risk. We need more options because the current system is definitely BROKEN!

    October 26, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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