Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) wasn’t on hand in the Finance Committee hearing room to oppose against the public option in person. But below is her official statement with respect to the “no” vote she issued by proxy.
Arkansans have told me they support health care reform that forces insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and prevents them from dropping coverage when you become seriously ill. We can achieve these goals, stabilize the cost of coverage for Arkansans who have health insurance, and expand coverage to the uninsured and underinsured without creating a purely public, new government program, which most Arkansans do not support. I have promised my constituents that I will fight for health insurance reform that is deficit neutral, now and in the future, and that creates more choices for small businesses and their workers and the self-employed. These are important priorities that I believe we can achieve.
In addition, I am working to ensure that requiring Americans to purchase health insurance does not result in a personal windfall for health insurance company executives. My amendment would cut the tax shelter, from $1 million to $500,000, of what businesses are able to deduct for executive compensation. This is a fair policy change aimed at lowering insurance costs to consumers and reassuring them that insurance companies are not receiving excessive tax breaks while at the same time profiting from a government mandate.
Not very good news for reformers. The key questions down the line will be whether she’s willing to filibuster a public option amendment or an entire health care reform bill on the grounds that it contains a public option.