In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Are Pro-Public Option Senators Mourning The Loss Of The Medicare Buy In?

Newscom / Bill Clark

Walking in to the meeting, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) was asked whether the buy-in, and a triggered public option would be stripped from the compromise.

"[L]ooks that way," Harkin said. "There's enough good in this bill that even without those two."

After the meeting, Senators were largely mum about what was discussed. But neither of two public option enthusiasts--Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)--had much positive to say.

"I want to see health care reform," Brown said. "There's going to be a good bill."

Rockefeller wouldn't discuss the Medicare buy-in.

"I can't answer that, obviously, and I think I probably shouldn't," Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller said that the hours he spent negotiating with nine other senators on the public option compromise, which now seems mostly out of play, were worth it. "Absolutely," he said.

So is it real reform without a Medicare buy-in?

"The answer to that is yes. Is it perfect reform? The answer to that is no. But does it help the people where I come from? Yes.

"500 things [in this bills] and you take one out and say, well, without that is this really reform. Could it have been better? Yeah. But it could've been so much worse if we'd just decided not to do anything because we didn't get everything we wanted."

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at