WASHINGTON BUREAU — The health bill that goes to the Senate floor next week will include a public plan provision, and a section letting states opt out of using that provision, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.
Reid., D-Nev., has been working with the White House and with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., on melding the two major Senate health bills together.
Baucus oversaw the development of the Finance Committee’s S. 1796 health bill, and Dodd has been in charge of shepherding the health bill developed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee through the Senate.
“I feel good about the consensus that was reached within our caucus and with the White House,” Reid said today at a press conference. “I’ve always been a strong supporter of a public option.”
Having a government-run health plan compete with private insurers through a health insurance “exchange” system is “not a silver bullet,” but it could help increase the level of competition, Reid said.
Reid said would be sending the Congressional Budget Office a version of the Senate health bill to score within just a few hours.
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., has been a key advocate of letting states opt out of the public option health program and create their own alternatives to private plans.