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Evan Bayh and Bill Nelson Open to State Public Plans

Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery have an excellent overview on the next steps for health-care reform, and in particular, for the various compromises needed to pass a bill. Particularly worth noting is that Sen. Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh are beginning to talk about compromises on the public option.

One proposal attracting considerable attention originated with Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) and would allow states to decide whether to create their own insurance plans or join forces to provide coverage in collaboration with neighboring states. Other Democrats want to take the state-based approach a step further, creating a national public plan that states could join. Carper, a moderate, said he is not sure he is prepared to go that far. "I'm just chewing on that one," he said.

Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), a moderate Democrat, was bullish on Carper's approach. "I think something like that is likely, and would probably pass muster with moderates," he said. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who opposes a public option, said he likes Carper's idea. "I think the states, as laboratories of democracy, probably can find ways to deal with this, and if they do make a mistake it's a smaller mistake to correct than at the federal level," Nelson said.

This suggests two things, both of them cheering: The most conservative of the Democratic centrists are not going to draw a hard line against the public option, and they're actually negotiating toward support for the bill. There's going to be a lot of Senate pressure for a full public option, and a lot of House pressure for a full public option, and the moderates aren't planted so far to the other side of the issue that a compromise is inconceivable.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 13, 2009; 1:13 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

I say tell the 'moderates'/idiots/crooks to get on board with a federal public option that states can opt out of at worst/'best.'

Hopefully, they just push through a fully national public option that every state must make available and that anyone can join regardless of current status.

Tell those blue curs they can go ahead and commit political suicide by standing in the way of what 60% of the people want.

Posted by: bcbulger | October 13, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare reform needs a “Parody Option.” Check out “Healthcare Fighting (King Fu Mix)” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nc1VwJOb9Y

Posted by: thincaboutit | October 13, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Bill Nelson is open to the public option in the headline, Ben Nelson is open to the public option in the text. Although the two senators at times seem interchangeable, there are a few differences. Bill Nelson actually voted for Schumer's public option, though his support is weak (he prefers a trigger). It would be nice to know where Bill will eventually come down on reform, and if he is persuadable in terms of a public option with muscle.

Posted by: RavenLen | October 13, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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