Senate Public Option Scoreboard — Likely Supporters
On the Fence Likely Supporters Likely Opponents 17 38 45
Likely Supporters Senator Stance on Public Option Stance on Reconciliation Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) Signed a public letter saying that “absent a competitive and continuous public insurance option – health reform legislation will not produce nationwide access and ongoing cost containment.” (10/30/2009) “I would support it, yes.” (03/09/2010)
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) letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “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.” (02/20/2010) 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) “If the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes.” (03/01/2010) Sen. Jeff Bingaman told radio reporters yesterday that the public option “should definitely” be included in a health care reconciliation package, if it could get the votes. (02/22/2010) Bingaman says that using the reconciliation process is an option for getting portions of the health care reform bill passed in the Senate. (01/25/2010) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) “We need competition, which is what a public option would bring us.” (09/08/2009) letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “I thought the best case for reconciliation was made by Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who said, ‘Colleagues, this is a rule of the Senate. It’s the way we do business.’” (02/24/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Brown said didn’t yet know for sure whether Reid would commit to the reconciliation fix approach, but added that there’s a widespread sense in the caucus that this is probably the only workable route forward. “I can’t imagine another scenario,” Brown said. “We can’t start anew, and we can’t do piecemeal.” (01/28/2010) Roland Burris (D-Ill.) “I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one.” (09/16/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. 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) Cantwell told The Huffington Post that she’d vote for a public option under reconciliation, if the Senate parliamentarian OK’s it. (03/04/2010) 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) Cardin spokesperson Sue Walitsky: “Senator Cardin has always been a strong supporter of the public option. As a member of the Budget Committee, he has always considered reconciliation a viable option for passing health care reform. If there is a vote in reconciliation on the House public option, Senator Cardin would vote yes.” (03/01/2010) Sue Walitsky, Sen. Cardin’s spokesperson: “Sen. Cardin has always been a strong supporter of the public option. As a member of the Budget Committee, he has always considered reconciliation a viable option for health care reform.” (02/20/2010) 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) Casey spokesman Larry Smar in a statement: “If there is a vote on the House public option in reconciliation, he will vote yes.” (03/02/2010) Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) believes reconciliation should be an option if needed, his spokesman said. (02/25/2010) Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) Senate Majority Whip “ “I support a public option, but, yes, I am open.” (08/09/2009) Sen. Durbin’s spokesman: “Sen. Durbin has long been a supporter of the public option. I don’t know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the House version of the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation Sen. Durbin would vote yes.” (03/01/2010) 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) U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold said Saturday he supports the movement within the Senate to pass a health care bill with a public option under reconciliation rules, which require a simple majority without a filibuster. (02/21/2010) “While I have not made a final decision, I have not ruled out the possibility of using the reconciliation process to advance healthcare reform. I want to see and read the bill first.” (02/19/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Al Franken (D-Minn. “A strong public option is one of the best ways to bring down costs, hold insurance companies accountable, and protect health care coverage for Minnesotans.” (02/17/2010) “I think that what will happen is that the public option will be shown to work and states will sign on.” (10/27/2009) “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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “If we in the Senate pledge to fix those top priorities right away through reconciliation… the House of Representatives should pass the Senate bill. The exact details of this process need to be worked out by the leadership and the president.” (02/05/2010) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) “While the fight for a public option is still an uphill battle, the reason I have not given up on this fight is simple: I’ve been listening to you,” Gillibrand wrote to supporters. (02/24/2010) “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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) Signed a public letter saying that “absent a competitive and continuous public insurance option – health reform legislation will not produce nationwide access and ongoing cost containment.” (10/30/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. 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) “I’m for a public option, if there’s some way that it can get done,” he said. “If it qualified under reconciliation, then I would,” he said, when asked if he’d vote for it on the floor. (03/02/2009) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Senator John Kerry said today his preferred route to completing health care reform is for the House to pass the Senate bill, and for the Senate to make it more digestible to the House by approving fixes through the reconciliation process, which allows legislation to pass the Senate by a simple majority instead of 60 votes. (01/26/2010) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) “We must reduce health care costs for the people of this country. I support the House bill version of the public option which is based on negotiated rates. I do not support a public option based on Medicare rates because it exacerbates geographic disparities that already hurt Minnesota.” (02/17/2010) “I think there’s some positive movement toward a public option that includes cost reform and also has this opt-out provision, which I think is fine, since you may have some individual states that may not want to be a part of it.” (10/27/2009) “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) “I support the House bill version of the public option which is based on negotiated rates, and if that came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes. I do not support a public option based on Medicare rates because it exacerbates geographic disparities that already hurt Minnesota.” (03/01/2010) Klobuchar didn’t indicate she’d sign the letter, but said she supports “using reconciliation to pass the health reform bill with changes.” (02/17/10) Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) “[President Obama thinks the public option] is a good thing, he wishes we could have it. I feel the same way. But we’ll see how it works out as we work our way through the legislative process.” (09/11/2009) “Ideally, I think health reform should include some type of a public option.” (06/20/2009) Open to reconciliation. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) “When [Harry Reid's] bill becomes law, people cannot be denied health coverage because of preexisting conditions, they will have multiple choices for affordable insurance and the bill will actually reduce our Federal deficit.” (11/19/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) “The President’s proposal recognizes the importance of introducing choice and competition into the health insurance market…I also believe that meaningful reform must include additional choices for consumers by including a public option, and I will continue to push for its inclusion in health care reform.” (02/22/2010) “I want it to be competition — with the public option there is.” (09/09/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) “There will be an opt out. I think it’s a reality.” (11/20/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “The only question to me is not whether I favor it — I do — but whether or not the rules of reconciliation will permit it or not, because you can’t do policy stuff as its main purpose. It’s got to be financial stuff. So if you can do it by reconciliation, I’m all for it.” (02/23/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “I’m not sure how we get where we want to be if reconciliation is not the process.” (01/31/2010) Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) “By creating competition, by holding private insurers’ feet to the fire, you get better service. You get lower costs. So, a public option is essential.” (10/16/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “I’m sure that plenty of people will howl that using reconciliation somehow bypasses Senate procedure, as if it is unfair to pass legislation by majority vote. They couldn’t be more wrong. Reconciliation is a standard, majority-based procedure, which both parties have used regularly over the last 30 years.” (02/24/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. 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) “I don’t know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the public option came up for a vote as we move ahead with reform, including under reconciliation, I would vote yes.” (03/01/2010) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) “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. “I’d like to make it absolutely clear: I supported bills brought forward under reconciliation simply because the underlying bills met my standard for good legislation,” Nelson said. “I opposed a bill because it didn’t meet my standard of good legislation. Whether it required 50 votes or 60 votes, the process used didn’t change the substance.” (01/27/10) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Senate Majority Leader; top recipient of health industry campaign donations this year “I’ve told people, whoever will listen, that I am in favor of the public option.” (08/28/2009) “The public option, with an opt-out, is the one that’s fair.” (10/26/2009) “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) If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes. (02/19/2010) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “While I voted to proceed to the health care legislation tonight, I have made it clear to the administration and Democratic leadership that my vote for the final bill is by no means guaranteed. In the weeks to come I intend to do everything I can to make this legislation stronger and more effective for working families and taxpayers in Vermont and America and something all Americans can be proud of.” (11/21/2009) “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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “I support the reconciliation process or any other way we can get the votes we need to go forward.” (02/22/2010) Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Top recipient of insurance industry campaign donations this year “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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “This is far from a done deal, but it’s an opportunity to break through the obstructionism Republicans have pushed for the past year.” (02/18/2010) Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) “ (02/23/2010) “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) “This U.S. Senator is going to tell him (the President) emphatically that we need the public option.” (09/09/2009) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “I believe we ought to pass comprehensive health care reform and we ought to do it now and there is a way to do it. Let the House accept it, simultaneously with a bill to make certain changes through reconciliation and 50 votes.” (01/30/2010) Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) “I’ve been a supporter of a public option from the beginning. It’s one of the best ways to address competition in the health insurance industry.” (02/22/2010) “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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “Reconciliation is just one of the processes of getting things done that involves a majority vote.” (02/23/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. “He thinks it’s important that such a plan — like the one approved in the House bill — negotiate reimbursement rates while competing on a level playing field with the private sector, and if such a plan comes up for a vote under the reconciliation process, he would vote for it.” (03/02/2010) Tom Udall (D-N.M.) “I believe a strong public option will insert honest competition into the health insurance market, and is essential to our efforts if we hope to achieve substantive reform that makes quality, affordable health insurance available to the nearly half million New Mexicans without coverage today. I hope Senator Reid will consider this effort as negotiations on a final health reform package continue.” (02/18/2010) “I hope we’ll be able to put a bill on the floor that will have a public option.” (09/03/2009) Sen. Udall is open to using reconciliation to pass health insurance reform. He also maintains his support for a public option as the best way to keep insurance companies honest. (02/17/2010) 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) Signed letter advocating public option through reconciliation. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Co-wrote the Wyden-Bennett health reform bill, which restructures the private insurance market without a public option “Including a public option is a step in the right direction, now let’s remove the firewalls in this bill that prevent Americans from choosing it.” (10/27/2009) “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) “If the House version of the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes.” (03/02/2010) Jennifer Hoelzer, Communications Director for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.): “He continues to think reconciliation should remain on the table if it proves necessary to guarantee that every American has quality, affordable health insurance.” (02/24/2010) For senators who are on the fence, [click here](/67592/senate-public-option-scoreboard-on-the-fence).
For likely opponents, click here.