Pelosi Steps Up as Champion of the Public Option

A plan to reform health care that includes a robust public option would actually cut the deficit, according to preliminary estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For the purposes of this analysis, a robust public option was defined as one that reimburses doctors at Medicare rates plus five percent. The latest CBO estimate is critical for Democrats because President Barack Obama said he wouldn’t sign a health care bill that adds to the deficit. (There’s a double standard at work. Health care has to pay for itself or save money. But as Jo Comerford notes for Democracy Now!, the president has no compunction about bloating the budget with defense spending.)


As health care reform moves into the closed-door, intra-party negotiation phase, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is emerging as a champion of a public option. Pelosi has always said that she can’t pass a bill without some kind of public plan, though she has wavered about how tough that plan should be on payouts to providers. But according to Brian Beutler of TPMDC, yesterday’s “favorable CBO report seems to have settled all that, and Pelosi’s decided to go all in for a public option.”

And why not?

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