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It's Alive? Liberal Democrats Push Public Option Again

February 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Could the public option rise from the grave?

Four Democratic Senators have urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] to use the reconciliation process to revive the idea that was formerly dropped from the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590).

In a letter, which you can read here, Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO], Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY], Sen. Jeff Merkley [D, OR] and Sen. Sherrod Brown [D, OH] spell out four reasons for once again pushing the public option:

[I]ts 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.

Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO-2] and Rep. Chellie Pingree [D, ME-1] have been pushing a similar letter to House and Senate members.

But with Democrats walking on eggshells trying to reach a compromise on the excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health insurance policies, it’s hard to see the Senate finding the political will to dig up the pubic option.

While the belief many of these legislators have in the public option is not in doubt, at least two – Bennet and Gillibrand – might also benefit from signing such a letter by drumming up some liberal credibility in advance of a primary challenge from the left.

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