STAYING ALIVE

Public Option Back on the Table

Will it stay or will it go? Washington Democrats are resuscitating the public option and refashioning it with more flexibility, including allowing states to opt out of the program. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus—the moderate Blue Dog Dem whose public-option reticence has repeatedly driven health-care reform to a grinding halt—confirms that “the issue is alive, and we're looking at it." Three weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee rejected two versions of the public option in favor of nonprofit cooperatives. Since then, the Congressional Budget Office has expressed doubt about the cooperatives' ability to "establish a significant market presence," and private insurers’ demands began to irk some. The Washington Post breaks down the shift in public support for a government-run health-care plan, citing that 57 percent of Americans now favor a public option, while 40 percent oppose it. That's an increase in support from August, when a bare majority supported the plan.