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Grassley Doesn’t Rule Out Government Health Care Plan

Among the greatest obstacles to sweeping health care reform this year (or any year) is the question of whether to include a government-sponsored insurance plan to compete with the multitudes of private coverage options. It’s a concept that then-Sen. Barack Obama supported on the campaign trail, and one he hasn’t ruled out from his new perch in the White House. But Republicans have pounced on the idea, arguing that it would encroach unfairly on the private marketplace.

Among the fiercest opponents of public plans has been Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who just happens to be the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which just happens to be the panel through which health care reforms will originate. Indeed, Grassley and the committee chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), are currently working together to draft a comprehensive reform bill.

So it comes as something of a surprise when Grassley comes out, like he did to reporters today, to say that he won’t altogether rule out the public plan option as a part of Congress’ health reform package.

I think right now there’s a lot of people, including me — I’d prefer it not to be in [the bill]. Then there’s a lot of people that say, well, it’s got to be in or [there'll be] no bill. And then there’s a dozen ways to look at possible compromises. And I think before I would write [it] off completely, I would want to look at what those possible compromises are.

Not that supporters of the public plan option should consider Grassley a convert. Earlier in the press briefing ,the Iowa Republican said the government lacks the competence to run a health plan.

If you wonder whether or not the federal government is competent to run a government-run health insurance plan in competition with the private sector, just remember that the Senate was incapable of running its own restaurant and turned it over to private enterprise here about six months ago.

Ouch.

*TWI is on Twitter. Please follow us here. *

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