Deals

A Comeback for the Public Option?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is gambling that Democrats will vote for the public option—if it includes a mechanism for states to opt out—in the health-care bill he'll soon bring to the Senate floor. Late Thursday, Senate Democratic leaders were hastily called to a meeting with the president, where Reid was to ask for help securing votes. Democrats, who largely favor a government-run health insurance plan, have urged Reid to take an aggressive stance on the issue. As word of Reid's intentions spread on the Hill, an informal, bipartisan group of moderates emerged to resist the creation of a uniform nationwide public insurance program. Key moderate Sen. Olympia Snow, who crossed party lines to vote for the public-option-free Baucus version of the bill two weeks ago, could again have a huge amount of power, if only to give the legislation a patina of bipartisanship. The Maine Republican has already stated that she opposes the public option, and cautions that the bill not be rushed through.