We now know that the Senate is making an end run for a public option that gives states a chance to opt out. We also know that Majority Leader Harry Reid is still a handful of votes shy of the 60 he will likely need to pass the overall bill, if it contains the opt out plan.
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But how exactly does the opt out work? Senate leaders are mum about the policy details, as they await the CBO to report back a cost estimate. But, after conversations with experts and lawmakers over the past several days, we can take a look at some of the key variables, about which we'll have more information in the coming days.
Yesterday, Reid suggested--though without elaborating, and with substantial lack of clarity--that states will be allowed to opt out starting in 2014.
At a news conference, a reporter asked Reid, "Can states opt out immediately or is there a period of time where they have to," participate in the public plan? He responded, but his answer may have obscured more than it elucidated. "They'll have until 2014," Reid said.
Reid's staff was not forthcoming with clarification, but there are two possible interpretations to this answer.