House Progressives: Bill Without Public Option Won't Pass

Liberal Democrats in the House say that a healthcare reform bill that doesn't include the so-called public option won't pass.

President Barack Obama, as well as his press secretary and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius signaled Sunday that they were open to a healthcare bill that didn't carry the public option. But their remarks have sent liberal Democrats into a tailspin, and haven't drawn much backing from Republicans in Congress.

The public option would create a public insurance carrier that would be handled by the government and compete with private insurance companies, likely driving down premiums and negotiating lower payments for drugs and services.

“A bill without a public option won’t pass the House,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told Politico for an article published Tuesday. “Not only are they weakening their proposal, but they are also weakening their hand. This is legislative subtraction by subtraction.”

In an interview with CNBC Monday, Weiner said: "Not only I, but I think there's about 100 members of the House that you need to have something to bring down the prices."

The Congressional Black Caucus echoed Weiner's remarks in a private letter to Obama's health secretary, the site says.

“To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it,” wrote Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).

The three Democrats also included a list of 60 members of Congress who say the bill must contain a public option.

But that doesn't mean a public option is assured passage. Moderate Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who is charged with ushering the healthcare reform bill through the Senate, has said that a bill containing a public option simply doesn't have the 60 votes needed to pass. House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has also said he'd accept a bill without a public option.

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