Health Care

Public-Option Tensions Rise

Wednesday night, Obama may have called the public option merely a "means" to the more important end of ceasing "insurance-company abuses" and creating affordable coverage for the uninsured, but Congress' Democratic leadership may not agree. Politico reports that there's rising tension over the public option between House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Wednesday evening Hoyer was telling reporters that a reform bill sans public option could survive when Pelosi shot to the mike and cut him off, saying that any such bill "must have a public option." Traditionally, the two have been rivals who are sometimes effective allies—with Hoyer serving as ambassador to the conservative Blue Dogs while Pelosi channels the progressive wing of the party—although the brutal need for compromise is straining their relationship. It may be that Pelosi's public-plan defense is necessary for the unified bill she plans to pass through the House, while Hoyer's more open stance reflects what Politico called the "true endgame"—melding the liberal House bill with the conservative one that is expected to eke through the Senate.