Obama Will Back Public Option If Reid Does
Adding to the building pressure this week from his Senate colleagues who have openly demanded a public option in the health care reform bill, comes the news that President Obama would support a government-run insurance plan if Harry Reid signs onto it.
From tonight's Rachel Maddow interview with Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
Maddow: "The private insurance company writ large hasn't done a great job. That's why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?"
Sebelius: "Well, I think if it's... Certainly. If it's part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely."
This week has brought hopes of a public option back to life. After the first attempt at health-care reform late last year, the public option was all but killed as Reid and other Democratic leaders tried to pass a "bipartisan" bill by making changes to please the Republican senators from Maine (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe). Interesting how the second go-around might really hold the possibility for more strident reform.
It will be intriguing, too, to see what political calculations Reid considers as he makes his next move. He faces a tough reelection landscape this November, and his home state of Nevada is one where the public option is not very popular. But he represents a party and an electorate that for the most part supports the government insurance plan.