He wouldn't say whether he has the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster, but yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the healthcare bill he sends to the Senate floor will include a public option.
Under the proposal, the public program would only be available to the uninsured and small businesses, and states would be allowed to opt out of it, although it's unclear how that would work, and that still doesn't make Republicans any more interested in supporting it. Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, the only Republican who's tried to be anything but a total pain in the Democrats' collective ass about this, says she's "deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader's decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation" and still thinks the road to "broader bipartisan consensus" is threatening private insurers that if they don't voluntarily bring costs down to a certain level by a certain time, a public option will automatically go into effect. But Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo optimistically points out that Snowe's language, however critical, still leaves room for her to support the bill. "Note, she doesn't say she's withdrawing her support. And note as well that she says she thinks triggers could have been the path to broader bipartisan consensus—i.e. instead of being the path to just one Republican vote (hers), triggers might have won over a few more GOPers."
Reid seems to be shrugging off the lack of GOP support at this point, saying, "We looked for Republicans on this. It's just a little hard to find them." That's probably because they're too busy acting like an unbelievably watered-down attempt to insure every American is part of Obama's plot to make us a socialist country before his first term is over, and/or insisting that this is not what Americans want — even though polls are showing that more than half of us support a public option. A Kaiser Health tracking poll for October puts the number at 57 percent, and finds that "support for the public plan rises to 65 percent when initial opponents are told public plans would be 'a fallback that would only kick in if not enough people had affordable health plans available through the private marketplace'" — which sounds like a description of Snowe's trigger plan on the one hand, but also like a description of the situation we are already in.
Senate To Add 'Public Pption' To Healthcare Bill [L.A. Times]
Snowe 'Deeply Disappointed,' Says Triggers 'Could Have Been The Road' To Broader Bipartisanship [TPM]
Poll: Majority Favors Public Option [UPI]