The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Senate Public Option ScoreboardOn the FenceLikely SupportersLikely Opponents

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 09/16/2009 02:00
news
Elyse Woods

*As the health care debate twists and turns through the Senate, the prospects for a public option remain murky. This scoreboard, updated daily, can serve as your one-stop shop for senators’ stances on a public plan — in their own words. See our methodology here. Last updated: Nov. 10, 5:22 p.m. * * *

On the Fence Likely Supporters Likely Opponents
12 50 38

On the Fence

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 09/16/2009 02:00
Elyse Woods

Senator

Stance

Role in Debate

Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

“There are various versions of public option being bandied about. [...] The long and short of it is, this issue is alive.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I just really don’t know [if a public plan can pass].”

“I want a public option, too!” (08/24/09)

Member of the Gang of Six; chairman of the Finance Committee; released his Finance Committee bill on 9/16; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) Rachel Maddow Show: “Sen. Bayh told us it is extraordinarily unlikely that he would filibuster health reform. He said there is nothing in the bill he is aware of now that would cause him to vote to filibuster and he said that he currently ‘can’t think of a set of circumstances’ under which he would vote against cloture.” (10/29/2009)

“How you do it isn’t quite as important as the fact that you do it.” (09/10/2009)

“Some people argue that we should vote to go forward on a bill even if we don’t like it. [...] I’d like to move forward, but some of that’s going to depend on is it fiscally responsible.” (10/28/2009)

Founder of the Moderate Dems Working Group
Mark Begich (D-Alaska) “Some people call it a public option, some people call it an exchange, some people call it a co-op. Right now, to be honest, there are not 60 votes for any of those three.” (10/06/2009)

“I guess I don‘t want to put the word ‘public option.’ What I‘d rather say is that there‘s going to be some mechanism, I guess, at the end of the day to ensure that insurance companies are held accountable. … What I don‘t want to have happen is that the bill lives or dies by [the public option].” (09/10/2009)

“He is not committing to supporting a public option.” -Begich’s press secretary (09/02/2009)

Tom Carper (D-Del.) “I think at the end of the day there will be a national plan probably put together not by the federal government but by a non-profit board with some seed money from the federal government that states would initially participate in because of lack of affordability. The question is should there be an opportunity for states to opt out later on and if so, within a year, within two years, within three years?” (10/22/2009)

“There may not be enough votes to get the bill [that includes Reid's version of the public option] off the floor and get us to conference.” (10/27/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and for the Schumer amendment
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) “I think all of us have recognized throughout that there are three things” — abortion, illegal immigration and the public option — “that could really bring this down.” (11/10/2009)

“I’ve got to see [Reid's 'opt out' proposal] in writing and have scores before I reach any judgment.” (10/27/2009)

“A public option tied to Medicare levels of reimbursement is a non-starter for me because I represent North Dakota.” (10/13/2009)

Leading advocate of a co-op system; member of the Gang of Six; sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Mary Landrieu (D-La.) “The public option has been shaped 100 percent better than when it started out. So, it’s already shaped to be a public option that is supported by premiums.” (11/04/2009)

“I conveyed to Leader Reid that a number of moderates still were extremely concerned about a government-run, taxpayer-funded, national public plan. However, I am encouraged that the conversations taking place over the past week among Senators who back different versions of a public option could potentially lead to a compromise. I believe this compromise should happen sooner, rather than later, so we can get to work on other critical aspects of heath care reform.” (10/23/2009)

“We’re not trying to be Republicans…but we do believe in the free market.” (10/23/2009)

“I’m not right now inclined to support any filibuster.” (10/20/2009)

A key conservative Democrat, Landrieu has expressed opposition to a public option, but seems open to some form of compromise and says she would probably not support a GOP filibuster of a bill with a public option.
George LeMieux (R-Fla.) “Cutting half a trillion dollars from Medicare (over 10 years) is not budget neutral. Shifting costs to the states for increases in Medicaid is not responsible. And taxing medical and life-savings devices – which will increase, not decrease the cost of health care — is not reform!” (10/21/2009)

LeMieux stressed that he had ‘serious concerns’ about the latest health care reform proposal being pushed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, ”specifically highlighting $400 billion in cuts to Medicare funding.” (09/17/2009)

Sworn in on Sept. 9; has no legislative record
Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) “I can’t see a way in which I can vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated and run insurance company.” (10/27/2009)

On whether there’s any wiggle room in his commitment to filibuster a public option: “I don’t feel like wiggling.” (11/10/2009)

Lieberman said he was “inclined to let the motion to proceed” (or cloture) go forward, but “I haven’t decided yet.” (10/15/2009)

“I’ve told Sen. Reid that if the bill stays as it is now I will vote against cloture.” (10/27/2009)

Connecticut is a deep blue state, but also the hub of the American insurance industry.
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) “Creating another government-funded option is not where we’re going. We don’t need to go there. A government-funded option is something that I think is not the way to go.”(10/27/2009)

“There are many ways to provide greater options and choices to individuals, including non-profits, a state plan, and a co-op plan. … We already have an employer based, private health care system. We are trying to make it more affordable for everyone. We can’t just throw it all out and start over, but we can make it more efficient and more affordable for everyone.” (10/18/2009)

“Senator Lincoln has not committed her vote to anyone, she will have to see the legislative language and cost first and will evaluate it based on its impact on Arkansans.” (Lincoln spokeswoman) (10/26/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) “I’m not going to make any kind of commitment until I see the bill.” (10/27/2009)

“I think there is a legitimate argument for giving the states an option to solve this problem, which is essentially an insurance problem.” (10/06/2009)

“What was interesting in the poll numbers that I saw, that while there’s support for public option generally, generically, when you start talking about it specifically as it relates to states being able to opt out or opt in, have their own, the support overwhelmingly goes up to 76 percent.(10/20/2009)

Will oppose using budget reconciliation to pass a health care bill
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) “I’m open to a public option. … It depends on how it’s structured on whether I can support it. … I just haven’t decided.” (10/22/2009)

“I like the opt-out provision, at least what I know about it so far.” (10/28/2009)

“I don’t think you’ll see me or any other Democrats [filibuster a health care bill].” (10/15/2009)

“The truth is, I think, for folks who really know what the public option is, they get more comfortable with it. I think originally some folks branded it as just a government takeover of health care and that’s not what it is.” (10/27/2009)

Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) “I also support a public plan which must be available from day one — in any state where private plans fail to ensure guaranteed affordable coverage.” (07/22/2009)

“I don’t support [an opt-out public option]. … I’ve said, I’m against a public option. … It would be difficult [to vote for cloture on a public option].” (10/22/2009)

“I am deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation. I still believe that a fallback, safety net plan, to be triggered and available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate.” (10/26/2009)

Opposes most forms of a public option, but is the leading advocate of a “trigger” system; member of the Gang of Six; sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment; voted for the Baucus bill; signaled that she will vote against Reid’s “opt out” proposal, if no changes are made

Likely Supporters

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 09/16/2009 02:00
Elyse Woods

Senator

Stance

Role in Debate

Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) Signed a public letter saying “the surefire way to guarantee affordable and meaningful coverage for all is by giving citizens a choice between private insurance and a public alternative.” (05/06/2009)
Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) “Any health care reform bill should control costs, allow people to keep their own medical plan and their own doctor, increase competition, and increase coverage — all in a fiscally responsible way. I also believe providing patients with a public insurance option — that increases competition and drives down prices — would help to achieve these goals.” (08/08/2009)
Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) “My preference would be to do it through a public option but if some other decision was made to do it through a co-op or some other avenue I don’t think that’s the end of the world.” (08/08/2009) Member of the Gang of Six; sits on the HELP and Finance Committees; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) “We need competition, which is what a public option would bring us.” (09/08/2009)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) “[I]‘m not going to say I will not support it if it doesn’t have [a public option]. It’s not the only thing that matters in this bill. Guaranteed issue is very important … insurance reform is very important.” (09/03/2009)

“If the insurance companies are satisfied with this bill it’s not a good bill.” (09/03/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Roland Burris (D-Ill.) “I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one.” (09/16/2009)
Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) “Let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear [Ted Kennedy's] name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.” (08/26/2009) Called Ted Kennedy his “best friend in the Senate”; his poor health might prevent him from voting.
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) “I wouldn’t vote for a bill that doesn’t have Medicare reform and the public option. What would I tell the people in Washington state?” (09/16/2009) Sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Ben Cardin (D-Md.) “I think the public option is important. I think it’s important because you need to have an affordable option available for people.” (08/23/2009)
Bob Casey (D-Pa.) “I believe people should have a choice, and it gives people — the public option gives people another choice, along with a lot of choices that are in the private marketplace.” (08/31/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) “I don’t know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option. […] What I do know is that I plan to fight hard to convince my colleagues on the committee and in the full Senate that we need a public option.” (06/19/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee; presided over HELP Committee bill’s passage in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) absence
Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) “Yes I do [support a public option].” (08/21/2009)

“First of all, I think it’s important that people who are satisfied with the health plan they have know that they can keep that coverage.” (08/21/2009)

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) “I support a public option, but, yes, I am open.” (08/09/2009) Senate Majority Whip
Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) “We need a public option. We need something that would cause some control over the abuses that have occurred in the insurance industry.” (10/25/2009)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “I think the public option with an opt out is the right way to go.” (10/27/2009)

“The public option should be one of a variety of choices for people who want improved coverage.” (08/28/2009)

“I am also open to considering a non-profit co-operative model, as long as it can accomplish the critical goal of controlling premium costs and spurring competition.” (08/28/2009)

Al Franken (D-Minn.) “I think that we can use the public option to cut costs because private health insurers will have to compete with it. The public option also doesn’t have to make a profit so we can focus more on integrating care and coordinating health care homes and increasing quality to bring down costs.” (09/02/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) “I plan to stand with the president so that we move forward on meaningful health care reform. I continue to support a robust public option that can compete with private health insurance and drive down health care costs for everyone.” (09/10/2009)
Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) “We have crafted a plan that will stabilize health care costs and includes a Community Health Insurance Option, which I support.” (07/02/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) “Mark my word — I’m the chairman — it’s going to have a strong public option.” (09/13/2009)

“The vast majority of the Democratic caucus is for the public option that is in the HELP bill. Should the 52 give in to the five, or should the five come along with the majority?” (10/16/2009)

Chairman of the HELP Committee
Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) Signed a public letter saying “the surefire way to guarantee affordable and meaningful coverage for all is by giving citizens a choice between private insurance and a public alternative.” (05/06/2009)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) “A public option would simply be a government insurance plan that people could choose if they liked it better than the private insurance plans available to them. Americans who are not offered insurance through their employer or cannot afford private insurance plans need an affordable option.”
Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) “A public option – where the consumer has the opportunity to keep their current insurance or choose the public option, if no competitor is available – gives Americans a greater range of choices, makes the health care market more competitive, and keeps insurance companies honest.” (08/29/2009)
John Kerry (D-Mass.) “Sen. Kerry supports a robust public plan, that like Medicare, would be available to everyone from coast-to-coast.” (Kerry spokesman) (07/09/2009)

“Majority Leader Reid is taking the gutsy and appropriate road in fighting for the right policy, something the American people want and an issue on which every Senator should be held accountable. That’s why I voted for it in the Finance Committee and why I’ve advocated for it since day one.” (10/26/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Paul Kirk (D-Mass.) “Senator Kirk believes there should be a public option to keep costs down and keep insurance companies honest.” (Kirk spokesman) (09/28/2009) Sworn in on Sept. 24 to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) “I would prefer a public option that would be a competitive option that would allow people to buy into a Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which is a series of private plans.” (09/02/2009)
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) “Ideally, I think health reform should include some type of a public option.” (06/20/2009)
Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) “Greater choice and greater competition helps ensure consumers can get real coverage at more affordable prices and should be a part of national health care reform.” (05/21/2009)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) “Competition among private insurers has not driven down costs to consumers and the current private insurance market has a clear incentive to offer coverage only to the healthiest Americans. Comprehensive health care reform can change this calculus and that is why I support the creation of a federally backed, public health insurance option.” (05/21/2009)
Carl Levin (D-Mich.) We must “explore all possible health insurance options, including a federally-backed health insurance pool.” (05/21/2009)
Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) “I’ll vote for the public option. But I’m focused on these deficit costs, on how can we reconfigure the way we pay for health care in a way that, long term, will begin to have an impact on these deficits that are really going to threaten the security of our nation in the next 10 to 20 years, if we don’t get serious about it.” (10/25/2009)

“I think there’s a chance that we’ll have some kind of public option. But it probably will be a very moderate program that will be severely limited in terms of its ability to grow … and who can access it.” (10/05/2009)

“I can’t support a bill that will allow the public option to become the public mandate.” (08/31/2009)

“If it’s constrained, I’d vote yes.” (08/31/2009)

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) “By ensuring that families have a real choice of health insurance options – and that one of those choices is a quality, federally-backed plan – we can help guarantee that families will have good options for health care.” (05/21/2009)

“We need a public option to increase competition, keep insurers honest, drive down costs.” (09/29/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) “A public option will provide competition that will keep private insurance companies honest and help improve service and lower health care costs for everyone.” (05/21/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) “I say there is no option but a public option. For those who say we need a trigger, I say, ‘be careful; you could be shooting down health care.’” (06/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Patty Murray (D-Wash.) “What we are trying to do is create a competitive pool of insurance options, including a public option.” (08/20/2009)

“I support the President’s vision of a public plan.” (09/09/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) Supports a public option but wants to ensure that states cannot opt out for several years: “My concern is you don’t even get the competition from a public option to begin with because the insurance lobby will lock down its votes. The people will never know in that state or not if a public option would lower their rates. (10/27/2009)

“I have come down on the side of voting for the Schumer [public option] amendment,” Nelson told the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 29.

“[Public option advocates] don’t have a clue” about the logistics of a public plan. “The whole thing is so complicated you can’t expect them to understand. … If a co-op serves the same purpose, what’s the big deal? … You can’t get 60 votes in the Senate [for a public option]. I’m trying to get something passed.” (09/16/2009)

“He’s keeping an open mind on co-ops, public options and other possible proposals, but believes there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to pass a public-option plan,” a Nelson spokesman told TWI on Sept. 17.

Sits on the Finance Committee; ; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and for the Schumer amendment
Jack Reed (D-R.I.) “[The HELP bill] provided this public option so that it would be a fair competitor with private insurance. Not displace private insurance.” (07/25/2009)

“[Co-ops] could be a fallback position if we cannot muster the support for the public option as it’s come out of the committee. I hope we can muster the support, though.” (07/25/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “I’ve told people, whoever will listen, that I am in favor of the public option.” (08/28/2009)

“But there are many ways we can do it. One would be to have an entity like Medicare. I really don’t favor that. I think what we should have is a private entity that has direction from the federal government.” (08/28/2009)

“Reid continues to believe that at the end of the day, some form of a public option that creates competition and lowers costs for consumers will be included in any Senate proposal.” (Reid office statement) (10/05/2009)

Senate Majority Leader; top recipient of health industry campaign donations this year
Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) “I believe the inclusion of a strong public plan option in health reform legislation is a must. It is the only proven way to guarantee that all consumers have affordable, meaningful and accountable options available in the health insurance marketplace.” (08/16/2009) Sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “Our job both from a public policy point of view and a political point of view is to give our constituents what they want and that is a strong public option.” (10/27/2009)

“I am a strong advocate of a public option. I think that is one mechanism to keep the private insurance companies honest. If you’re serious about cost containment you have to do that and so my strong hope and expectation is there will be a strong public option in any health care bill that is passed. (08/17/2009)

The only senator to sponsor a single-payer bill since the 1990s; sits on the HELP Committee
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “We are going to come together on a public option. … I have talked to every moderate senator. Every one of them is interested, is open to a public option.” (10/04/2009)

“I have faith in Harry Reid to get the 60 votes.” (10/27/2009)

“I personally don’t particularly like the trigger, particularly if its three years or four years down the road. It depends on how you set up the trigger, but [if] your measure is concentration in the insurance industry and the lack of competition as a result of that concentration — we’re there already.” (09/09/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; top recipient of insurance industry campaign donations this year; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and and the Schumer amendment
Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) “This U.S. Senator is going to tell him (the President) emphatically that we need the public option.” (09/09/2009)

“I think the likelihood is there are 50 plus votes among the Democrats in the Senate to have a robust public option, without an opt out, with a trigger, without any condition.(10/22/2009)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) “I am a supporter of the public option. … But I think it’s important to stay focused on what we’re trying to accomplish. … There are a number of ways to get there.” (09/13/2009)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) “Well, I support a public option. I did it in committee.” (10/05/2009)

“[The public option] is only a part of reform. It is an important part. Those of us on the inside are looking at what we can do and looking at the votes.” (08/18/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Jon Tester (D-Mont.) “We need competition, and if we get a public option that will help Montana. I will support it.” (10/28/2009)

“I don’t need [the public option] either way. I could either support it or not support it. It’s all in the design.” (08/26/2009)

Mark Udall (D-Colo.) “I support the President’s plan to include the public option as a tool help reform our broken health care system. But above all, any reform must be done in a deficit-neutral way and must provide choice, stability and security for those who have insurance.” (09/10/2009)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.) “I hope we’ll be able to put a bill on the floor that will have a public option.” (09/03/2009)
Mark Warner (D-Va.) “It’s not a make or break thing–he wants to see a health reform bill that contains costs, and if it includes a public option…he would vote for it.” (Warner spokesman) (08/24/2009)

“I want to make sure there are some competitive alternatives to the insurance companies. But I’m concerned that simply expanding Medicare and Medicaid without getting the financial incentives right — it’s going to again end up driving up the deficit costs.” (08/24/2009)

Jim Webb (D-Va.) “There is no reason to believe that private insurers alone will meet the public purpose of ensuring coverage for all American at an affordable price for taxpayers.” (06/25/2009)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) “I think we’re taking reckless chances if we don’t include a public option, so I’m a very strong supporter of it. Is it possible that we could solve the problem without it? I suppose hypothetically, but I think it would be a mistake.” (08/21/2009)
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) “I am very open to the public option, to anything that will contain health care costs. We have to have choices.” (09/03/2009)

“When you have a prestigious medical organization like Mayo Clinic saying that they could accept a public option if it was like what members of Congress get … that’s a real breakthrough.” (09/22/2009)

Co-wrote the Wyden-Bennett health reform bill, which restructures the private insurance market without a public option; sits on the Finance Committee; voted for the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment

Likely Opponents

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 09/16/2009 02:00
Elyse Woods

Senator

Stance

Role in Debate

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) “Thumbing their nose at the American people by ramming through a partisan bill would be the same thing as going to war without asking Congress’ permission. You might technically be able to do it, but you’d pay a terrible price in the next election.” (09/06/2009)

“Let’s do it step-by-step. Let’s don’t try to change the whole system at once.” (09/06/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) “What I’m hearing all across the country is ‘kill the bill.’” (08/28/2009)
Robert Bennett (R-Utah) “If it has a public option in it, even one that is described as a co-op, the answer is: ‘No.’” (08/26/2009) Co-wrote the Wyden-Bennett health reform bill, which restructures the private insurance market without a public option.
Kit Bond (R-Mo.) “I don’t want to see government-controlled co-ops or triggers, anything like that. It’s a gateway drug to a public option.” (09/09/2009)

“The only bipartisan thing about this whole bill is the opposition to the plan.” (09/09/2009)

Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) “I call on the President and the Congressional leadership to stop the current attempts to push massive and expensive health care reform through Congress.” (08/27/2009)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) “I do not support a government-run health care program. I believe it will kill private insurance.” (09/09/2009)

“We will see if Congress and the Obama administration … continue to ignore the will of the people in an effort to force their liberal agenda down our throats.” (09/09/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Richard Burr (R-N.C.) “We’re leaving to an elected official the ability at any point now, five years from now ten years from now, to write the rules on mandates in a way the private sector couldn’t compete with the government option, that’s just not a smart thing for the congress to do.” (08/14/2009)

“I am willing to entertain [the co-op proposal.] However, if these co-ops are financed or run by the federal government, then they are no better than the public option and are just federally run health care under a different name.” (08/18/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) “Every individual has the right to choose their own doctor and that’s why I’m opposed to universal health care.” (09/01/2009)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) “As a practicing physician, I have seen first-hand how giving government more control over health care has failed to make health care more affordable and accessible.”(05/20/2009)

“Is it efficient to care for the people in Northwest Arkansas by sending money to Washington … or could you as a community figure out a way to do it better, which by the way is constitutional? … There is no compassion in any government program.” (09/06/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) “I don’t think the Senate is going to endorse the House work product.” (08/2009)
Susan Collins (R-Maine) “I’m opposed to a Washington-run public option. I believe it would cause many people to lose health insurance that they’re currently happy with now, and that’s contrary to the assurances that advocates of the public option have been giving. I’m also concerned about the cost and control issue.” (09/08/2009)

“The problem with the trigger is it just delays the public option.” (09/08/2009)

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) “I don’t think a public option will be part of a final package. While I think certainly the president will mention that in a speech Wednesday night, I do not think it’s going to be a part of a plan that passes unless it’s done through reconciliation, which to me is not the route to go.” (09/08/2009)
John Cornyn (R-Texas) “[A public plan] would eventually undermine all the private-sector competition because the government could set a price that nobody could survive with.” (07/02/2009) Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) “The battle in our country over whether to shift to a government option in health care is an overarching one that we have to get past.” (09/09/2009) Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) “If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” (07/17/2009)

“Any Republican now that helps them pass a bill is helping them pass a government takeover of health care.” (08/17/2009)

John Ensign (R-Nev.) “[A public option] will destroy, I believe, and most believe, that it will destroy the private insurance system.” (09/25/2009)

“I hope people don’t politicize Sen. Kennedy’s death and use it to pass a bill.” (09/25/2009)

Sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) “For millions of Americans, the government-run plan would turn into a bureaucratic nightmare.” (08/19/2009)

“I can count votes, and I know that a government-run plan will not pass in the Senate.” (08/19/2009)

Member of the Gang of Six; ranking member of the HELP Committee; sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “My belief is that no private-sector entity can survive over a long period of time competing against the government.” (08/08/2009)

“The public option has been roundly rejected by the public. The public is smart.” (10/26/2009)

Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) “The simple truth is that I am and always have been opposed to the Obama Administration’s plans to nationalize health care. Period.” (08/2009)

“I see [co-ops] as an opportunity to enhance health-care competition — just as cooperatives do in other areas of the economy.” (08/18/2009)

Member of the Gang of Six; ranking member of the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) “A public plan is essentially a stalking horse for a single-payer plan. It is more than the camel’s nose under the tent. It is the camel’s neck, and probably front legs, under the tent. There is no way the private sector will be able to compete.” (09/12/2009)

“We shouldn’t push [those 170 million Americans who already have health insurance] into a public plan by creating a system which basically disincentivizes their employers to give them health care.” (10/28/2009)

Sits on the HELP and Finance Committees; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) “They’re trying to put through a government plan, one way or the other, that will have everything run right out of Washington. I mean, look, it just doesn’t work that way.” (09/15/2009)

“Sooner or later they’re going to do away with the private insurance market, which would be a catastrophe.” (08/26/2009)

Sits on the HELP and Finance Committees; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) “If the president truly wants to bring America together and have Republicans sign onto this, he really does need to start all over with a new blueprint.” (09/09/2009)
James Inhofe (R-Okla.) “Many in Washington believe the answer rests in a bureaucratically managed, one-size-fits-all, government health care program that includes what advocates call a ‘public option’. I strongly disagree and reject this approach.” (08/11/2009)

“We can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.” (07/22/2009)

Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) “I am not going to be a part of mortgaging my kids’ futures by driving Americans to a government-run health care system we can’t afford.” (09/10/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) “President Obama continues to press for a government-run option and I cannot support that.” (09/11/2009)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) “There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill. … No matter how bad things are, Congress can always make things worse.” (08/18/2009)

“I agree that states should have the option to opt in. But I don’t even know if they have this provision written yet. I certainly haven’t seen it.” (10/27/2009)

Kyl’s office (in response to preceding quote): “Today’s report in The Hill regarding Senator Kyl’s position on an ‘opt-in’ for a government insurance plan is inaccurate. His statement was taken completely out of context, and he, along with every member of our caucus, does not support a government-run insurance plan in any form. Everyone who has been following this debate should know Senator Kyl has been leading the charge against a government takeover of our health-care system.” (10/28/2009)

Senate Minority Whip; sits on the Finance Committee; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) “I would advise the president that the bringing up of the health care situation in the midst of recession … was a mistake. Let’s clear the deck and try it again next year or in subsequent times.” (08/23/2009)
John McCain (R-Ariz.) “A public option, which is really a government option, is not something that will do anything but lead to a government takeover of health care in America.” (08/25/2009) Sits on the HELP Committee
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “I think I can pretty safely say there aren’t any Senate Republicans who think a government plan is a good idea.” (07/26/2009)

“A government takeover on the installment plan — or a ‘trigger’ as some are calling it — is still a government takeover.” (09/09/2009)

Senate Minority Leader
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) “I am not one of those who believes that the best course of action is just to kill this thing. … I think it’s gonna have to be scaled down. (08/20/2009)

“I think that conventional wisdom is that a public option doesn’t have the support, and will not pass through [the Finance] committee.” (09/11/2009)

Sits on the HELP Committee
Jim Risch (R-Idaho) “Private entities cannot compete with a government entity.” (09/09/2009)

“The President continues to promote the false choice of a complete government takeover or doing nothing.” (09/09/2009)

Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) “[The public option] won’t work. It hasn’t worked in other countries.” (06/08/2009) Sits on the HELP and Finance Committees; voted against the Rockefeller amendment and the Schumer amendment
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) “I do think it continues to decline in public support. I can’t imagine that the public option could be a part of that, part of a final bill, but it’s possible. … I think if the will of the American people continues to be expressed, I think that every week that goes by, the threat of a major government takeover is less and less.” (09/03/2009)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) “As long as the president continues to pursue a government-run plan, I remain in strong opposition.” (09/10/2009)
John Thune (R-S.D.) “We should be providing incentives to states to reform their insurance markets and expand coverage in ways that work best for them, not a one-size-fits-all program imposed by the federal government.” (08/23/2009)
David Vitter (R-La.) “Any public option would eventually become the dominant option, and I’m afraid eventually the only option.” (08/25/2009)
George Voinovich (R-Ohio) “A bureaucratic Washington-run government plan is not the answer. … The last thing we need to do is pass legislation that would expand the government’s role in health care or create new entitlement program without first controlling costs.” (07/23/2009)
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) “We’re being offered the promise of genuine competition between the public plan and private insurance plans. When, in fact, the purpose is to switch Americans to a European-style single payer plan down the road.” (08/03/2009)
*[Methodology: ]()*Classifications are based on senators’ stated positions on the public option — a government-run health insurance program to compete with private insurers. “Likely supporters” are senators who have indicated that they would probably vote for a bill with a strong, untriggered public option. “Likely opponents” are senators who have indicated that they would not vote for a bill with any kind of public option. “On the fence” senators have expressed reservations about a strong public option, displayed openness to weaker public option proposals (such as a trigger or an opt-in or opt-out option), or, in the case of Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.), have not yet expressed any views on the public option. These classifications are necessarily fluid and inexact. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), for example, has expressed support for a public option, but he has said that a public option could not pass the Senate, and his Finance Committee bill does not contain a public option; he is listed as “on the fence.”

It also bears noting that while people tend to toss around 60 votes as the magic number for passage, 50 supporters could theoretically suffice here. Some conservative Democrats, like Mary Landrieu (La.), have expressed strong reservations about the public option yet say they are unlikely to support a filibuster. If all Democrats and Independents vote for cloture, only 50 votes (plus Vice President Biden’s tie-breaker) would be needed for passage.

We will update this scoreboard frequently as senators change and clarify their views on health care legislation. Stop by daily for the latest news!

Elyse Woods | As a product marketing manager, I've had the opportunity to help a variety of companies improve their sales margins and audience reaction to new products. Since I am passionate about product perception, marketing, and company statistics, I have brought commitment and positive results to the companies with which I have worked. What makes a product successful fascinates and inspires me.

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