In a letter to two of his more progressive colleagues in the Senate — Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — the Nevada Democrat implicitly apologized for his inability to get a government-run insurance plan into the final piece of health care legislation and promised to keep working to get the policy into law…
“Nevertheless, like you, I remain committed to pursuing the public option. While I believe that the legislation we are considering does much to provide affordable coverage to millions of Americans and curb insurance company abuses, I also believe that the public option would provide additional competition to make insurance even more affordable. As we have discussed, I will work to ensure that we are able to vote on the public option in the coming months.”
That was all that Bernie Sanders needed to hear — or rather, all the thin political cover that Bernie Sanders needed — to drop his bid to add a public option to the reconciliation bill. But here’s a fun footnote from HuffPo:
The search now is for a vehicle outside health care reform to get a public plan into law. The same institutional hurdles that killed the provision in the previous go-rounds — mainly that there aren’t 60 supportive senators to break a filibuster — remain. But aides on the Hill are already looking to future reconciliation vehicles to which they can attach the public plan, which would, in turn, allow for it to pass via an up-or-down vote.
If you think we’re done with reconciliation after O-Care passes, think again. This is business as usual from now on, at least with respect to contentious revisions to health care. As for Reid’s promise to take up the public option “in the coming months,” it’s thoughtful of HuffPo not to mention to the idiots among its readership what transparent nonsense that is. The whole point of ramming the bill through now is to get O-Care off the table before the midterms; Reid won’t dare touch this issue again before then, least of all to take a further step towards socialized medicine by passing a public plan. Next year’s not promising either since he — or, I should say, the new majority leader — will have fewer seats to work with, and no one will want another angry months-long fight over health care. His only option is to try to pass it after the election but before the new Congress is sworn in, in a lame-duck session. I’d like to see him try.