Senator Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that Democrats in the Senate
would agree on a public option for insurance coverage, though the
proposal will be different from the ones currently under consideration.
"We are going to come together on a public option," said the New
York Democrat. "It will have some modifications. Senators like Tom
Carper [D-Del.], one of the leaders of the moderate group, have made
some proposals. Others have made some proposals. There are lots of
different alternatives. But we need a public option simply for this
reason: There is no competition in the insurance industry right now...
the public option will bring costs down by providing competition. And
it is only an option."
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Schumer's remarks come at a time
when the public option seems more than likely to be jettisoned from the
final health care bill. His comments should be a bit soothing for a
progressive community that increasingly equates the success of reform
with the ability to pass a government-run plan.
That said, a whole slew of sub-debates could very well erupt in the
next few weeks over the types of adjustments that Schumer and others
are willing to make on the public plan. Carper's proposal to allow
state governments to set up and administer a health insurance entity,
for instance, may make political sense -- it could have the 60 votes
needed to pass the Senate. But it is also a proposal that drew heavy criticism from progressives when it was first put forward by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in mid-June.