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Where did all of this momentum for the public option come from? According to a source close to negotiations, it came from last night's closed door meeting between Senate and White House officials, with the push coming from Democratic leadership.

"It's definitely being considered," the source said, referring to the public option compromise that may end up in the Senate's health care bill.

"It came out at last night's meeting," the source indicated. "It was indicated that based on some surveying that had been done of the moderates, that it doesn't so far seem like they would jump out of their skin as long as they have an opportunity to vote to strip it."

Any provision in the base bill that hits the Senate floor will stay in unless 60 senators can band together to strip it out. That means if a public option is included now, it's almost certain not to go anywhere. According to both Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and other sources, the compromise being considered would create a national public option that pays providers at negotiated rates. Unlike similar so-called "level-playing-field" public option proposals, it would not be operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, but by a separate entity, with a board of directors appointed by the government.

This fact, apparently, didn't sit well with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who is determined to keep Sen. Olympia Snowe's vote.

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has made a new change to his "Names of the Dead" Web site, which is meant to catalog a list of people who have died for lack of health insurance, with the sidebar of dead people's names now restored to the site.

The page had originally allowed users to post names that would immediately go live to the site, without any editing, which quickly led to the display of joke names like "Wile E. Coyote" and "Hugh G. Reckshinn." The list was then removed.

A source close to Grayson told me that names will now be cleared through an administrator before going live.

However, I should point out that this approach is also susceptible to prank names if they are obscure enough -- which already happened yesterday with entries such as "Steve Rogers, 90" (Captain America), "Casper McFadden, 12" (Casper the Friendly Ghost), or "Norma Jeane Mortenson, 36" (Marilyn Monroe).

About 400 union activists gathered outside the Capitol Hilton in downtown D.C. this afternoon and called on AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni to take a break from the health insurance industry convention going on inside to meet with seven insurance company customers who say they've each lived through (some of them barely) a nightmare that started when they tried to get their insurer to pay their medical bills.

Ignagni didn't show.

Health Care For America Now!, and organized labor-funded lobbying group, hosted the protest and brought the seven families to DC to meet with Igagni. Executive Director Richard Kirsch told the crowd outside the bad news.

"They're all scared of you," he said of insurance company executives. "They don't want to face us."

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The head of the Justice Department's beleaguered Public Integrity unit is stepping down.

William Welch, who supervised the department's botched prosecution of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, will remain with DOJ but return to Massachusetts, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

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After a week delay, four Republican lawmakers have formally asked the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether a Muslim advocacy group placed interns in national security committees, a spokesperson for the sergeant at arms confirmed to TPMmuckraker this afternoon.

Spokesperson Kerri Hanley would only say that a letter requesting a probe of the Council on American Islamic Relations was received today and that it is under review.

The letter, which you can read in full here, claims that CAIR is tied to "HAMAS" and cites the new WND-published book Muslim Mafia, written by a man who has labeled President Obama "Muslim":

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After a meeting with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) discussed the status of the public plan in the Senate health care bill with reporters. Here's what he said:

"I think at the end of the day there will be a national plan probably put together not by the federal government but by a non-profit board with some seed money from the federal government that states would initially participate in because of lack of affordability. The question is should there be an opportunity for states to opt out later on and if so, within a year, within two years, within three years?"

How would this plan work? "Among the things that's important," Carper said, "is, one, that this not be a government run, government funded enterprise, two, that there be a level playing field so that this non-profit entity that would be stood up would have to play by same rules basically as for-profit insurance companies--the idea that secretary of Health and Human Services [will be] running or directing the operation of this--no way.

We ought to have a non-profit board--it could be appointed by the President but a non profit board. They'd have to retain earnings, create a retained earnings pool, so that if they run into financial problems later on the financial needs of the plan could be met by the retained earnings, not by the federal government.


Carper suggested that a state's ability to opt out could be determined by the effectiveness and competitiveness of its insurance market. "There should be some standard--how do we say to a state, 'No you've got to participate in it right from day one,' and if so should there be an opportunity later on for you to say, 'Well, it's not working, we don't want to continue to be a part that,' and to opt out."

I pressed Carper on whether this entity would be accountable to taxpayers. He didn't answer directly--clearly there's some interest in de-emphasizing the government's role in the insurance market--he did sugest that the public option, though run by a non-government entity, would answer to the government.

And that would appear to bring it into line with the demands of the largest health care reform campaign in the country.

Word on Capitol Hill today is that a public option may end up in the final Senate health care bill after all, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) doesn't sound like she likes it very much.

During an interview with NPR's "Tell Me More" today, Landrieu described the public option as a "government-run, taxpayer subsidized, national insurance plan."

Opining on the polls showing support for public option, she said it was all about the phrasing of the question.

"I think if you asked, 'Do you want a public option but it would force the government to go bankrupt,' people would say 'No,'" she said.

The Hill caught the NPR bit earlier. Listen to the full piece here.

A collection of essays about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, titled Going Rouge, will be released the same day as Palin's own much-awaited book, Going Rogue.

The essays, collected by The Nation senior editors Richard Kim and Betsy Reed and written by Max Blumenthal, Katha Pollitt, Matt Taibbi and several others, will examine "the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation's political scene."

And yes, the book is available for pre-order.

(H/T Shannyn Moore)

Democrats and civil-rights advocates are slamming conservative members of a key federal voting-rights panel for a plan to hold hearings on the controversial "New Black Panthers" voter intimidation case, and are expressing intense concern that the commission is being shifted away from its traditional role as a protector of the rights of minority voters.

Yesterday, Main Justice reported that the commission, dominated by Bush appointees, planned to hold hearings on the New Black Panther case, which the Justice Department dismissed earlier this year. In a now-famous incident from Election Day 2008, a member of a group called the New Black Panther Party was caught on camera clad in combat boots and brandishing a night stick at a Philadelphia polling station.

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