After a press event supporting a patient's bill of rights, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)--a staunch public option supporter, told reporters she'd be happy with a health care bill without a public option, so long as it accomplishes the public option's imperatives of lowering costs and providing competition.
"If we can do the same thing [as a public option] through another mechanism, and get broader support, I'm willing to look at that," Stabenow said.
"For those of us who want a public option, we have to look at why did we want it: Not the name I didn't support the public option because of its name. I supported a public option because of what it did. So if we can accomplish it without calling it that, that works for me."
Stabenow said the CBO will play a big part in determining whether any of the compromise proposals actually succeed on that score. "That's why these things, we can't immediately say yes or no to, because we have to look at it in the context of the whole bill, making sure we're keeping our commitment to lower the deficit," she said.
Whether liberal and conservative Democrats can reach accord on the public option--and what accord they actually reach--are perhaps the most crucial unresolved questions hanging over the Senate health care debate. We'll be keeping an eye on all of it.