Senate Dems Urge Public Option by Reconciliation
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm
For the past few weeks, House liberals have been urging Democratic leaders in the Senate to bring up the public insurance option via the budget reconciliation process, which would sidestep the filibuster and allow a simple majority-wins vote on the contentious public plan. Now some senators are joining the party as well.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), four upper-chamber Democrats — Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) — argue that including the public option would improve not only the Senate’s health reform bill, but also “the public’s perception of it.”
There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach – its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option….
The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market — both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices. A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules.
With the pressure increasing on Democrats to reach across the aisle, it’s not likely that Reid would take such a controversial step. Then again, there’s been no indication that the Republicans’ calls for bipartisanship are in any way sincere. And of course, Reid’s slumping popularity in Nevada leaves him with little to lose.
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