Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, who was reportedly none too pleased when he learned that Harry Reid was leaning towards putting a public option in the Senate’s health care bill, is now singing a much more positive tune. “It is time to make our system work better for patients and providers, for small business owners and for our economy. It is time for health care reform,” Baucus said.
For more than a year, we’ve been working to meet the goals of reducing the growth of health care costs, improving quality and efficiency and expanding coverage. There are a tremendous number of complicated issues that go into reform and the public option is certainly one of them. I included a public option in the health reform blueprint I released nearly one year ago, and continue to support any provision, including a public option, that will ensure choice and competition and get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. Success should be our threshold and I am going to fight hard for the 60 votes we need to meet that goal this year.
There’s still some wiggle room there. (Will Baucus help twist arms to get to 60?) But he seems to be implying that he thinks the public option plus opt-out can clear the threshold–and that’s the first clear statement of his abstract support for the provision in quite some time.
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