Burris Becomes First Senator to Insist on a Public Option

UPI/Newscom
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In response to the release of Sen. Max Baucus’ health care reform bill, Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) became the first Senator today to say he will vote against any health care bill that does not include a public option.

“I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one,” Burris said. “Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day.”

You can read the entire statement below the fold. Obviously, there’s a huge difference between opposing health care reform without a public option, and voting no on cloture (i.e. supporting a filibuster) on a bill without a public option. In fact, with the Senate numbers being what they are, the difference is crucial, and if Burris is suggesting the latter, it could have a tremendous impact on health care negotiations going forward. I’ve put in calls to his staff for clarity on that point, and will report back when I learn more.“I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one. Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day.”

“We need real reform now. The inclusion of a public option as a central component to any healthcare reform legislation is the only way to create meaningful competition with the insurance companies, and in turn, bring down costs and improve quality of care for the people of Illinois and all Americans.

“Following President Obama’s healthcare speech last week, there is a great deal of momentum to fix the healthcare crisis, and I am committed to working with the White House, Senate leadership, and my colleagues to achieve consensus and to affect change on this critical issue. I am confident we will pass this legislation before the end of the year, and I look forward to casting my vote in the United States Senate for a healthcare reform bill that includes a public option.”

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 brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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