Monday, October 05, 2009

Reid, Baucus ready to split on public option for healthcare as vote nears

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), once in polite disagreement over the idea of a public option component in healthcare legislation, are approaching a breaking point over the issue.

Reid and Baucus have staked out opposing positions on the central question of a government role in health reform — Reid has consistently stood in favor, but Baucus has consistently said the idea doesn’t have enough Senate support.
Having deferred the issue to Baucus this summer, Reid signaled on Thursday that he is prepared to join Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who both pushed a public option amendment that failed in a committee vote last Tuesday.

“We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president's desk," Reid said in a conference call with constituents on Thursday, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun. “I believe the public option is so vitally important to create a level playing field and prevent the insurance companies from taking advantage of us.”

On the same day, Harkin gave The Des Moines Register the same message, suggesting clearly that he will side with Reid against Baucus.

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