Amid Pressure From Party Leaders And Reformers, Blanche Lincoln Now Open To A Public Option

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)–a key Democratic hold out on the question of a public option–is starting to cave. In an op-ed in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lincoln echoes the party line–“Health care reform must build upon what works and improve inefficiencies”–then breaks with her old position:

Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan.

As Greg Sargent notes, that’s not a full-throated endorsement. But it’s certainly a step in that direction. Until today, Lincoln was only willing to say she was ‘evaluating’ the merits of the public option.

A couple things to keep in mind. First, Lincoln has been under fire from reformers for being unwilling to unequivocally endorse the public option–and since she still hasn’t done that, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be fully satisfied.

Second, this comes as Democratic leaders are making their strongest push yet to unite caucus members ahead of a tough fight over health care reform. Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing the Senate Finance Committee to move ahead with a comprehensive and satisfactory health care reform bill with or without Republican support, and, relatedly, Majority Whip Dick Durbin is urging party members to oppose Republican filibusters on Democratic agenda items, even if they don’t support the underlying legislation.